Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 18:54:13 -0400
Reply-To: Andrew Gross <gross.drew**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Andrew Gross <gross.drew**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Extinguishers and gloves
Comments: To: "Nail, John"
In-Reply-To: <62CF6C9F10C1D44DA44CCC3EE395B53F0103D90E84**At_Symbol_Here**>

I have absolutely nothing against training laboratory workers to
extinguish their own fires, but my point was made in your responce.
Perhaps I was not clear.  You were required to put out an oil fire,
which meant you used either a foam or dry chem extinguisher.  While
totally different, they are used relatively similar and I applaud your
employer for investing in teaching you the skills to use these tools.
They are expensive and not easy.  Most employers will not pay for
that, which is why I assume you suggested the garbage can idea.

If you remember from your training, you swept the fire and coated it
with the material to essentially suffocate it and remove the oxygen or
if you used foam, you coated and pushed the foam back with more foam.
With water, you generally are attacking the fire more directly and
removing the heat/energy from the fire.  Using the techniques you
would use on a combustible fire would only spread an oil/chemical
fire.  And that is why I am so very against using paper fires to train
lab workers.

To conclude, if OSHA could mandate that all employees need to be
instructed on the fire type they would most likely encounter, then
putting extinguishers in their hands is the best idea.  I'm sorry if I
offended you in someway and I hope perhaps my point has become more
clear now.  I think the best way to put it would be you don't drive a
car to learn to fly a plane.


On Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 10:15 AM, Nail, John wrote:
> Let me see if I have this straight -
> A researcher uses an extinguisher to put out a lab fire.
> An OSHA investigator cites the institution for lack of documented extingu
isher training, despite the obvious fact that the researcher was able to su
ccessfully put out the fire.
> The local FD begins to remove extinguishers from the labs.
> My suggestion about putting out trash can fires was in regards to the OSH
A training issue. BTW- when I was at another university, all Chemistry depa
rtment personnel were required to use an extinguisher to put out an oil fir
e during the annual safety training.
> As a trained firefighter, you can be as angry as you want to over the ide
a that 'untrained' (unwashed?) people dare to put out fires. As a trained c
hemist who has worked extensively with pyrophoric materials, I am angry ove
r your attitude that lab workers should not be allowed to extinguish small 
lab fires. As an educator, I would not let students use flammable liquids i
n a lab unless an extinguisher was available for me to use in any incidents
> This idea of 'remove safety equipment because lab personnel are too stupi
d/untrained/untrustworthy to use it properly is condescending, and frankly,
 leads to an attitude that gets people killed.
> What EVERYONE needs to recognize is that there is a significant differenc
e between a small hood fire and a major building fire. Whomever first disco
vers the small hood fire should put it out if they can do so safely, and ye
s, those of us who have handled dangerous materials, know a thing or two ab
out working safely. And, no, I would try to fight a large fire. Yes, someon
e has to use their judgment when assessing the situation.
> Whether the issue is extinguishers in lab areas or freshman chemistry stu
dents wearing gloves, the key question is 'do we teach how to assess risks 
and use the PPE and safety equipment that is appropriate to that risk or do
 we give students a mindless set of rules?'
> In regards to the 'this is how its done in industry' argument, yes, I hav
e been in industry. Industry and academia are two very different cultures. 
People in industry have different motivations than do people in academia. I
ndustry and academia are not valid comparisons.
> It's easier to create rules than to think.
> John Nail
> Professor of Chemistry
> Oklahoma City University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of 
Andrew Gross
> Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 5:03 PM
> To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
> Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers
> I can not agree more. =A0I wrote almost an identical email, but I
> decided to wait 24 hours to let my anger at the suggestion die down to
> make sure I wasn't coming on strong. =A0Here is what I wrote yesterday:
> I have to strongly disagree with your live burn training. =A0As a
> firefighter, I am trained to recognize and understand the difference
> between a Class A through D fire. =A0What you are describing would be a
> Class A fire, which for cost reasons, would most likely be put out
> with a Class A extinguisher/Water Can. =A0The students would know how to
> put out a class A combustible fire sure, but that is the furthest
> thing from a threat in a laboratory.
> In a lab you have to worry about the class B (oil based) and class D
> (misc/exotic) fires. =A0Even if the student is educated in which
> extinguisher to grab, attacking a Class B or D fire in the same tactic
> that you would attack a class A fire would most definitely be
> catastrophic, only to encourage the spread of the involved material.
> What students need to be taught is fire prevention and the basics and
> have them constantly reinforced. =A0First, never panic, stop drop and
> roll in fire, know your exits and stay low during evacuation as well
> as use of a fire blanket. =A0We don't need heros in the laboratory, we
> need prudent, safe workers. =A0Leave the hero game to trained
> professionals or someone will get hurt.
> Perhaps the FD removed the cans for a reason. =A0A class A extinguisher
> has no place in a lab and you are better off with nothing. =A0You need a
> combination of A/B/C and B/C cans as well as the proper D can for
> whatever is in the lab (ie, purple K for phosphorus)
> To the contrary, I like the "don't panic" training you laid out. =A0If
> you would like more consultation on that feel free to ask.
> Sorry to knock your idea in public, but setting a garbage can on fire
> and calling it training is just asking for a funeral when a chem fire
> erupts and some dope thinks its the same attack.
> Drew
> On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 10:31 AM, List Moderator wrote:
>> From: =A0 rj**At_Symbol_Here**
>> Subject: =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0RE: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers
>> Date: =A0 August 12, 2009 10:03:56 AM EDT
>> There are a lot of different regulations that we all have to abide by,
>> and they can be very confusing as to which ones to follow. Being a
>> firefighter, I can tell you that Debbie is correct when it comes to Fire
>> Code. =A0Your local/state fire marshal's office decides the regulations,
>> but that does not mean if you have fire extinguishers present to ignore
>> OSHA regulations.
>>> From a firefighter's standpoint, when it comes to fires in a lab, we
>> never like to see anyone try to extinguish a fire. The reasoning for
>> this is, the student/employee does not have on the correct PPE on to try
>> to fight a fire. Working with chemicals we know that a fire can get out
>> of control very quickly, and we don't want anyone getting caught in a
>> situation like that without firefighter experience, proper training, or
>> correct PPE.
>> After that being said fire extinguishers still belong in the lab. The
>> main propose of a fire extinguisher is for defensive use. Meaning, if
>> there was a fire that blocked the exits of a room, a fire extinguisher
>> should be available to use to assure the safe exit of everyone from the
>> room/building. =A0So, I completely disagree with the removal of the fire
>> extinguishers from the facility, your lab needs to have training at
>> least once a year, and ask the fire department for help with the
>> training. Fire extinguishers are a life safety tool and they should be
>> present!
>> You should also check with your local fire department to see if the
>> community has adopted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
>> standards. If they have adopted them then you would want to get NFPA 10
>> Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.
>> Best regards,
>> R.J. Wolcik
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