Date: Tue, 8 Sep 2009 19:38:29 -0400
Reply-To: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Subject: Re: Fire Extinguisher Training - Once upon a time.... ( a
suggested approach)
In-Reply-To: <009001ca30cb$98519c20$84c78980**At_Symbol_Here**>


At my college we have trained ALL science students for the p ast 30 years (all of whom necessarily have to take the first general chemistry course) in how to use fire extinguishers, the four classes of fires, and th e fire triangle/tetrahedron.=A0=A0 Everyone gets hands-on training with a CO2 extinguisher, (and on those days we can see the atmospheric CO2 spike in th e IR in the neighboring lab!) =A0=A0The local fire department conducts this trai ning, which also gives them time to talk with students about fire safety from the ir perspective, =A0including the annoyance of false alarms in residence halls, etc.=A0 Good PR for them.=A0 We push about 120 students through this program every fall; I suspect that it would be much harder, logistically, at a large university .=A0


David C. Finster
Professor of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Chemistry
Wittenberg University

F rom: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Marc Majewski
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 5:31 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Fire Extinguisher Training - Once upon a time .... ( a suggested approach)

DCHAS folks,

Once upon a time, at a previous company, I had an o ffer from a na=EFve fire sprinkler company to conduct hands-on

fire extinguisher training free of charge.=A0 I exp lained that I had 1500 employees and that I would put all of them through the training.

"No problem", said the sprinkler company representative, "We consider it a public service".=A0

So I countered with, ..."and I have another 50 00 employees at a sister plant 15 miles away - would you train them as well?"=A0

"Sure he said."=A0=A0 So I went to see my boss about taking advantage of this incredible offer.=A0

I knew my boss would follow the company line and sa y something like, "...we don't train our employees to use extinguishers

because we don't want them to put themselves at ris k to save company assets...people come first, property second..."

=A0So, I was prepared with an appropriate reply.=A0

Sure enough, he said ex actly what I described, whereupon I said,

"How about we train people to fight their way out of a fire using an extinguisher,

and reinforce the idea that they should never put prop erty ahead of their own safety?"

=A0My bos s, being no dummy, took a microsecond to decide, and said, “train them all, an d put me in the first class!”

…and that’s how I managed to get 6500 employees trained to use a fire extinguisher.

NOTE: The fire s prinkler company quickly learned that they needed to charge $1 per extinguisher to re-charge the used ones.

With that small change in the agreement, we continued to have the sprinkler company come on-site to train new employees

once a year, at a cost of about 35 cents per employee. Soon we opened up the training to family members as well.

The sprinkler company n ever won the contract to provide fire sprinkler services to the company, but said th at word-of-mouth

from all the people they’ve trained has kept them in business for many years.< /p>

FURTHER NOTE: Th is happened about 20 years ago. Costs have gone up, and there are air pollutio n prohibitions against smoky fires

that prevent the kind o f training we did back then. However, the argument still works !


LAST WORD: I rea lize that the events I described happened in industry, and “things are different in industry”.

Years earlier when I ta ught techniques of laboratory experimentation in a large university, I always included a quick discussion

about fire safety in th e lab, as part of the curriculum!=A0 This included the chemistry of fire and ignition, the fire triangle,

types of extinguishers, the basics about using a fire extinguisher, and ended with a live demonstration .

While not the same as h ands-on training facing real flames, it’s not a bad second choice,

and might circumvent th e ridiculous policy issues we’ve been reading about.


Marc Majewski



Senior Program Manager, Safety & I.H.

Corporate Environment, Health, & Safety Group

Genentech, Inc.

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