Date: Sat, 4 Oct 2003 23:01:57 -0400
Reply-To: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Fire in the fume hood
In-Reply-To: <000f01c38a94$653e9920$c4cd4218**At_Symbol_Here**>

>Hello all,
>Does anyone know whether or not a fume hood should be turned off or
>left on if fire breaks out in the fume hood?
>We have always assumed that one would turn the fume hood off as not
>to provide oxygen to the fire; unless noxious fumes are produced by
>the fire in which case the fume hood would be left on until fire
>personnel get to the scene.

In general, if you're talking organic liquids, those are going to
burn regardless, so the clearing the fumes and smoke will usually be
the most important issue.  Clearly, however, each situation is unique
and there is no single answer to your question.

I was witness to an accident at MIT involving a ~12 foot long double
hood.  When the explosion occurred (because of mixing of incompatible
wastes) there were several other organic waste bottles in the same
hood, and these went up as well.  The fire and smoke were so intense,
that smoke rolled down out of the hoods in the laboratories across
the hall, but the occupants of the lab were able to escape with very
little smoke obscuring their exit route because the hoods were on.

I also witnessed an accident at U of KY which flooded a 2000 sq foot
teaching lab with thick black smoke down to about 4' off the ground.
The fume hoods were running full tilt; without those we would have
been unable to ascertain if anyone else was in the laboratory or
unconscious on the floor.  A description of that accident and
post-incident pictures are available at

Thus, based on my personal experiences with such lab catastrophes
(disclaimer: neither was my fault or responsibility!), ventilating
the room is a life safety priority issue.  Evacuation is the primary
concern regardless.  Shutting the fume hood sash or laboratory door
on the way out is about the most one can hope for in terms of damage
mitigation in a true emergency situation.

Dr. Rob Toreki
    Interactive Learning Paradigms, Incorporated (ILPI)
100% custom content development for e-learning programs.
Ph: (859) 396-5218, Fax: (859) 523-0606, sales**At_Symbol_Here**
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