From: Heather McCollor <mccollor**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] pull fire alarm for chemical spills?
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 10:07:34 -0600
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAD4_Q1AkY2xH-ERBzpKArDiaeQFd7ZVhc+7SO59pi7T4aKUvLw**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <81517D60279DA14B9C4EB0E41FBFA6873DFD7D95**At_Symbol_Here**>

It is my belief that pulling the fire alarm will change the airflow system in the building to help contain the fumes within the room while others are evacuating.

Heather McCollor

On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM, Strode, Kyle <strode**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

The Risk Management Committee at my college is revamping our "Emergency Protocol Guide" for campus. Regarding chemical spills, they have asked me what should be on the chart when there is a chemical spill.

One member suggested that when a large spill occurs, the person should pull the fire alarm. Even for a pretty nasty spill, I am uncomfortable with that recommendation. I am worried that

  • the fire department will be summoned for moderate-large spills of innocuous chemicals
  • the FD will come for very small spills of hazardous chemicals, when the actual danger is pretty low

As a relatively new CHO, it seems to me that for chemical spills, the protocol would be to have a person call the FD if a chemistry professor determines that it is necessary.

In my teaching career, we have only had one nasty spill (boiling nitric acid spilled out of the hood and everyone started choking), which we mitigated by evacuating the lab and waiting until the lab ventilation system cleaned most of it out. Then we went in and mopped it up with bicarbonate.

I am interested in your thoughts, advice or experiences.


Kyle Strode

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Carroll College

1601 N. Benton Ave.

Helena, MT 59625-0002

(406) 447-5564

Heather McCollor
Laboratory Materials Supervisor
Macalester College
1600 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105

NAOSMM past-president Aug 2013-Aug 2015

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