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I feel a need to chime in as well.
What is the FD thinking????
You have an environment that is known to produce small fires on occasion and you want to remove a safety device that could help control them?
As to the university – train the teaching staff. It doesn’t cost that much and your local fire dept might do it for free (well, then again, maybe YOUR local fire dept wouldn’t). In that case, hire someone to do it. FE training includes when to fight and when to run away. My FE training costs about $30 a head. Think of it as cheap insurance. The cost is nothing compared to losing a life or a building.
By the way, is the lab sprinkled (I sure hope so) and do the hood have fire suppression in them?
From: Alan Hall <ahalltoxic**At_Symbol_Here**msn.com>< /span>
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers and gloves
Date: September 5, 2009 8:01:04 PM EDT
As a former volunteer firefighter, Medical Toxicologist, 20-year-Board-Certified Emergency Physician, etc. I might just chime in.
My disabled daughter who teaches science (including chemistry) just started at a new school in a very rural area. I went with her as an Able Bodied (whatever that means at age 60) person to set up her classroom.
What we found were the old glass-doors locked with locks anything any inquisitive freshman could open with a paperclip or a hairpin, and inside was a collection of some chemical things I hadn't seen since I was a sophomore high school student not intentionally breaking glassware (I was later a TA in a quite fine chemistry lab and helped devise a safer way to clean glassware). I am helping her and the Superintendent get them properly disposed of. It'll be done properly.
The fire extinguisher (far too small, too remotely located, and of the wrong type for a chemical fire) is being replaced. The nearest Fire Department is 15-45 miles away, so if they have a problem, they'll have to deal with it themselves, but hopefully can evacuate to a safe distance in time. But for a small tabletop fire, a suitable fire extinguisher used by a person who has been trained properly is clearly the sensible thing.
When a structure is burning down, from whatever cause, we should let the professional firefighters (or the volunteer firefighters who make up around 60-70% in our country) deal with it and get the Hades out of the way. That would mean setting up a Command Post, and all the other stuff many of us teach on a routine basis and the senior fire service official would nealy always be the incident commander. But a flash in a pan in a hood in a lab or lab table? There has to be some persepective on these things. You don't kill mosquitos with an elephant gun. (Begging your pardon, but why would anyone want to kill an elephant?)
Best Wishes to ALL. Ostriches make good eating, are really quite dangerous while alive to those would don't know about them and the dangers they present, but are clearly not something to emulate.
So, please don't be taking fire extinguishers out of laboratories. Let's spend our time making sure someone present is trained and qualified to use one.
Alan H. Hall, M.D.
President and Chief Medical Toxicologist
Toxicology Consulting and Medical Translating Services, Inc.
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