Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 10:54:45 -0700
Reply-To: Jean & Ken Smith <smith.j.k**At_Symbol_Here**SBCGLOBAL.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Jean & Ken Smith <smith.j.k**At_Symbol_Here**SBCGLOBAL.NET>
Subject: Re: Firefighters treated after blaze at NY college lab
Comments: To: Andrew Gross
In-Reply-To: <2317fc9b0906300938j65bb803eud2380e59f1a9be3e**At_Symbol_Here**>
It appears that the old method of recognizing chemicals by their odors 
gone the way of the dodo since the toxicity values have come to the 
These regulations and rules generally have eclipsed the common sense of 
minor exposure for identification purposes to trumpet that you will die 
get some horrible disease if exposed.  Using instruments is "now the way 
go" for ID of odors.

The use of a trained chemist for such purposes was definitely wasted by 
fire department.  More training and liaison is certainly needed for the
firefighters in dealing with chemical situations, especially when
educational laboratories are involved.

The firefighters (of course) are much more "macho" or "educated" in how 
deal with odors or various vapors.  They probably went in without SCBA 
other respirators in order to locate the source.  Fighters are 
trained in dealing with hazardous smoke/vapors by using respiratory
protection when entering an unknown situation.  They should be 
for this effort and the possible exposure to some very toxic unknown

Ken Smith
CIH Retired

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of
Andrew Gross
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:39 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Firefighters treated after blaze at NY college 

Does anyone have a much much more detailed version of this story in
print.  I would like to post it in my firehouse.  Just recently we had
an incident in a science lab where there was an unknown smell which
set off the fire alarm.  I made an offer to go in an try to identify
the smell (afterall, I have the most exposure to chemicals and chances
are I would recognize the smell before anyone else) even though my
unit was assigned to the exterior.  Instead I got ridiculed and the
crews spent almost an hour exposed to the vapors trying to locate

I would like to post the article to show them how serious that
situation was or could have been.  Perhaps hint that they had a
resource they neglected to use.

-Andrew Gross

On Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 8:20 AM, List Moderator wrote:
> I wonder if the UCLA fire has increased the press' interest in lab
> stories...
> - Ralph
> Firefighters treated after blaze at NY college lab
> June 30, 2009
> TROY, N.Y. - More than a dozen firefighters are recovering after they 
> exposed to smoke and chemicals after a fire broke out inside a 
> an Albany-area college.
> No one was seriously injured but Troy Fire Department officials say 15
> firefighters were checked out at a hospital after Monday evening's 
> a chemical lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
> Fire Chief Tom Garrett says the fire broke out about 6:20 p.m. on the
> floor of a lab in a science building. He says a student was working 
> and accidentally ignited the fire while conducting an experiment.
> RPI officials say the student suffered burns to her hands and was 
> Troy hospital. The college's public safety department is conducting an
> investigation.

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