The following is the perspective from our emergency response team leader re: the need for emergency purge buttons for rooms and hoods. Thank you all for your responses and comments on this issue.
Yung Morgan, MsPH
Industrial Hygiene Services
Environmental Health and Safety
117 Draper hall
UMASS,Amherst MA 01003
phone (413) 545-2682
Fax (413) 545-2600
email : pmorgan**At_Symbol_Here**ehs.umass.edu
Yung I would add from my perspective the following
Our office has been involved in campus wide emergency response for over 30 years. We maintain 24/7 coverage and operate a full HAZWOPER team. The fire department along with the State HAZMAT team expect us to be on scene to help assess and evaluate any ER to the campus.
For chemical spills in laboratories we generally respond in house and clean these up under our HAZWOPER protocols. The fire chief has worked well with us and wants to be in the loop and is available if we need him. We train with the fire department and the state HAZMAT team on a regular basis. I think maintaining that relationship and fostering the sense of confidence allows you to maintain control of your buildings and your operation. When we request assistance from these groups it is generally a Unified Command Structure with our staff participating in the decision making process. These efforts take considerable time and effort but have paid off in major incidents.
Now to laboratory purge systems.
As the Incident Commander directing an entry I would prefer to have my entry team enter a room with the lowest readings possible. We do not allow entry if readings are at 10% of the LEL and I would prefer that measurements if available are below any IDLH. Our first call as we respond to a spill is to ask if the room is on full purge. If the occupants did not activate the room purge as they evacuated our HVAC people can activate these emergency purges room by room or floor by floor depending on what has occurred. With modern day controls our HVAC staff can operate these from home at any time of the day or night. This simple action makes the room extremely negative and keeps the hot zone small. We allow the purge to continue as our team suits up and we develop our Incident Action Pl