Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:05:15 -0800
Reply-To: Marc Majewski <majewski.marc**At_Symbol_Here**GENE.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Marc Majewski <majewski.marc**At_Symbol_Here**GENE.COM>
Organization: Genentech Inc.
Subject: Re: Fire extinguishers in research and teaching labs
Comments: To: List Moderator
In-Reply-To: <1C53F6D1-1C00-4F9C-A034-02CE882E1829**At_Symbol_Here**>
Re Fire Extinguisher Training:


The cost issue is a red herring.


The cost of this kind of hands-on training is very low. 

Several years ago, I was able to have >4000 employees trained for free, 

(until the training provider decided they needed to charge for 

the cost of replenishing the extinguishers used up in the training

-which amounted to <$1 per person).  


Many fire departments can and do provide this training for free. 

If not ask your local ASSE chapter, and alumni for volunteers.

Or, try the local fire academy that trains firefighters.


So if cost isn't the real issue, what is?


In my experience it is the (misplaced) fear of injury, and liability.


I can't tell you how many times I've heard, 

"We don't want anyone injured trying to safe property. 

We'd rather let it burn than put our people at risk"


I was able to overcome this issue very simply by re-casting the idea. 


You're not training your people to "fire a fire".

You are "training your people to fire their way out of a fire".


BINGO, all of a sudden, you've made it clear that "people safety" 

is the purpose of the training, not "saving property".


When making this argument in favor of fire extinguisher training, 

it is also useful to throw in the idea that the training will emphasize 

that fighting fires is not the responsibility of the "employee", 

and that they will be clearly instructed not to put themselves at risk.


One added note: 

During the actual training "Employees" should be clearly instructed 

how to evaluate whether their extinguisher is capable of successfully 

dealing with an "incipient fire", (typically less than 0.5 cubic yard of

and when it's best to evacuate. 

This is how you truly determine whether the safest thing one can do is 

to fight and extinguish the fire or run away from it.


Hope this helps you set your administration on the right (safe) path.





P.S. Given that this is a "Chemistry Department", the "chemistry of

is a subject worth teaching as part of the curriculum, or part of the 

"lab safety course" that every chemistry department should have! 


The effectiveness of different fire extinguishing media on the various types

of fires is a natural tie-in.


Demonstrations of these principles is a routine matter. 

From there, it's only a small step to actual hands-on training for the


Even if you never get to the actual hands-on training, the students will

the knowledge they need to "behave safely" when faced with a fire.





Marc Majewski 



Senior Program Manager, Safety & I.H. 

Corporate Environment, Health, & Safety Group

Genentech, Inc.


'  650.467.2994

*  majewski.marc**At_Symbol_Here**


-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of
List Moderator
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 6:14 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Fire extinguishers in research and teaching labs


This is an e-mail from another list that I am on that I thought would  

be of interest to DCHAS-L...


- Ralph



From:       swihart**At_Symbol_Here**PURDUE.EDU

Subject:    [SAFETY] anybody here from Murfreesboro?

Date:       November 24, 2008 9:06:21 AM EST (CA)



Our Chemistry Department received a "survey" from a person in the  

Chemistry Department at Middle Tennessee State University.   The Dept  

Head asked me to respond to the survey.


At MTSU some of the Chem faculty and graduate students are apparently  

very upset that the university administration has forbidden them to  

use fire extinguishers in their research and teaching labs.


The survey sender wrote "The reason given is that the university  

cannot bear the enormous expense required to train a group of  

experienced graduate faculty and research scientists in the  

complicated procedures involved in using a fire extinguisher."


That made me sigh a sad sigh, those of you in universities know why,  

but anyway, if there's anyone in this list that is at MTSU, I would  

enjoy corresponding with you about how I might be able to


1 -- find the appropriate address to copy my reply to this "survey" to  

someone in the MTSU administration, and

2 -- get tips on how to persuade *my* university administration to  

consider such a plan.





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