From: ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:50:09 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: FC4891FC-DF4B-4BD5-960E-650864817AF8**At_Symbol_Here**

Daniel's post highlights the importance of regularly inspecting your safety equipment, no matter what it is!  Should be clean and in operating condition.

Modesty concerns have lead to death.  Hard to say for sure, of course, but in cases 1-3, one can infer that modesty may have played a significant role, although one can't rule out poor training:

In a case I saw firsthand, a coworker was on fire after a waste explosion.  We doused her under a shower to extinguish her burning clothing.  She was also apparently covered with acid, but her likely premature exit from the shower was probably more due to the temperature of the water than modesty.   However, I can easily see someone failing to remove contaminated clothing out of modesty concerns, increasing the contact time with a potentially harmful material.

Based on personal experience, I'd have to say it's a reasonable idea to velcro a pair of good surgical scissors to your safety station or wall so they can be used to cut affected clothing off a victim while they are in the shower.  You never want to try and remove contaminated clothing the way it went on - just cut it off instead.  Or keep them handy in your desk drawer if they are likely to walk away, of course.

Rob Toreki

Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust.  Visit us at
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Fax: (856) 553-6154, PO Box 1003, Blackwood, NJ 08012

On Jul 31, 2014, at 8:25 PM, Daniel Crowl <crowl**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU> wrote:

We removed all the fire blankets when we installed safety showers in all the labs.

I did not see anyone mention the problem with contaminating a burn with a non-sterile fire blanket.  Our blankets were probably 20 years old when removed, and they looked dusty.  I think the blankets might stick to a burn wound.  Maybe someone in burn wound care can comment on this.

I think it would be better to quench the fire with the safety shower and then move on to proper medical attention.  This assumes that the water in the safety shower is in good condition - not full of rust.

If showers are not present, then the fire blankets would be the only recourse.

I have never considered modesty as a big consideration in emergency response. 

Dan Crowl
Michigan Tech University

On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 5:45 PM, Debbie M. Decker <dmdecker**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
I have heard suggested that fire blankets could be used to wrap someone who has stripped and used the safety shower.  You could also use the fire blanket for modesty if someone needs to strip and use the safety shower.

Debbie M. Decker, CCHO
Safety Manager
Department of Chemistry
University of California, Davis
122 Chemistry
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA  95616

Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Elmore, Kimberly A
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:43 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab

This is very useful. Thank you for the post and discussion.

Kim Elmore
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] on behalf of Eric Clark [erclark**At_Symbol_Here**PH.LACOUNTY.GOV]
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:11 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab

This is the National Fire Prevention Association's opinion on fire blankets:

Clothing fires - modify NFPA 45 Annex to add text similar to the following on fire
blankets: Fire blankets may be valuable in labs for a variety of purposes. One of those does not happen to be wrapping yourself in them to extinguish your clothing fire. In addition to trapping the heat, the fire blanket creates a chimney effect and directs the hot, toxic gases, and flames into your face, breathing zone and lungs. Someone else can get the blanket and use it to help smother the flames. Blankets can also be used for (1) shower modesty curtains, (2) wraps for after the shower, (3) a temporary stretcher, (4) to keep someone warm to avoid shock, (5) a pillow if the victim needs to be on the floor, and (6) to smother other fires.

Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals Minutes - November 15, 2012


Eric Clark, MS, CHMM, CCHO
Safety Officer, Public Health Scientist III Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory

From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Kennedy, Sheila
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:40 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab

The DivCHAS email list talked about this 4 years ago (
It seemed to me most commenters were in agreement that using a fire blanket to wrap a victim who is standing (with clothes on fire) would likely create a chimney effect, funneling hot gases to the victim's face. Neal L. said that NFPA had not commented on this - just changed their emphasis from fire blankets to "STOP! - DROP! - ROLL!"

Does anyone have a citation for this change?
Do you have blankets in your labs?
What do you teach about fire blankets?

It worries me that the vertical fire blanket cabinets are still on the market and I've found web pages (including one University safety program and Wikipedia) still teaching the "wrap the standing victim" method..
"Prudent Practices" recommends a fire blanket as a last resort, but doesn't give much explanation.

Sheila M. Kennedy, C.H.O.
Safety Coordinator | Teaching Laboratories Chemistry & Biochemistry |University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. | La Jolla, CA  92093-0303
(858) 534 - 0221 | fax  (858) 534 - 7687 s1kennedy**At_Symbol_Here**<mailto:s1kennedy**At_Symbol_Here**> |<>

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