From: Phuong Morgan <pmorgan**At_Symbol_Here**EHS.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] pull fire alarm for chemical spills?
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 16:59:49 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: B146A5C95EBD714CB311BE2ABF6C028A082E8B1A**At_Symbol_Here**oit-ex2010-mb3

We  had  a grad student pulling out of the hood a burning oil bath, luckily the flame was extinguished but the smoke alarm was activated. When our responder came to the building, thanks to the fire alarm, he found the gentleman with both burned hands sitting in complete shock on the front steps of the building . He did not use the fire extinguisher next to him and did not call anyone out of fear. Our responder called the ambulance to get him the help.

 Our researchers came from so many countries where the fear of repercussion can be high.   In my lab safety trainings,  we suggested they pull the fire alarm if they don’t want to call 9-11 so that we can at least  locate them. Spills large or small outside the fume hood, we asked them to push the room exhaust  purge or the hood exhaust  purge and leave the area until help comes. Spills large or small should be mitigated and preferably by  trained personnel .


Only my thoughts and opinions . Stay warm everyone .   




Yung Morgan , MsPH

Lab safety and IH services

Environmental Health and Safety

117 Draper hall

Umass-Amherst , MA 01003

VM 413-545-5118

Mobile: 413-658-7467


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Heather McCollor
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] pull fire alarm for chemical spills?


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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