From: Eric Clark <erclark**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2014 18:02:15 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 17A66C0B22391144A0BEE1CA471703EA77BA1EF6**At_Symbol_Here**ITSSDOWEXMB11.HOSTED.LAC.COM
In-Reply-To <39DB6B1B08408346BF305B415EE1559A010A460A515E**At_Symbol_Here**>

A lack of floor drains for safety showers is first and foremost a construction cost-saving measure. OSHA makes no requirement to install floor drains. Their concern is to mitigate worker injury my mandating safety showers and eyewash stations; environmental concerns are not within OSHA's purview. When questioned about this, low-bidding contractors convince building administrators that safety shower floor drains somehow violate EPA's Clean Water Act. And the myth continues.

Who'ya gonna call? Myth Busters!
It CAN go down the floor drain.
40 CFR 268.2 (e)
(4) De minimis losses of characteristic wastes to wastewaters are not considered to be prohibited wastes and are defined as losses from normal material handling operations (e.g. . discharges from safety showers and rinsing and cleaning of personal safety equipment . ).


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

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Marlyn Newhouse
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 9:11 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab

Dear Ones,

Lack of floor drains is not necessarily a bad thing. Depending on the nature of the substance, some facilities do not have self contained cisterns or holding tanks. Our Lab manager with an assistant goes around and tests each safety shower with a cart and a large plastic trash barrel under each shower twice a year. These are recorded on an index card enclosed in plastic tacked on the wall by each shower. Each eyewash station is flushed for 20 minutes weekly. Standing water gets smelly, contaminated with ?. One student refused to use the eyewash station because it smelled like gasoline prior to our initiating this Standard Operating Procedure. It does not take a lot of money to be safe. It does take commitment.

I believe proper protocal is that the person on fire Stops, Drops and Rolls while Some one else gets the fire blanket. That is the way the example in Wickstrom's "Starting With Safety" ACS video shows students with a manakin model


Marlyn Newhouse, D.A.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson TN 38305

From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Jeffrey Lewin [jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU]
Sent: Friday, August 01, 2014 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire blankets in lab

Based on my recollection of the last discussion, and with discussions I've had with others off list, we formally and informally implemented the following in our teaching and research labs:

Emphasize "Stop, Drop and Roll." (S D and R). We put this directly into our new (ca 5 minute) undergraduate lab safety video we show at the first lab section every semester in every Biology teaching lab. I'm in the process of evaluating and updating our current safety training program for our Department's employees and because of the content of this video (emergency contact, evacuations, fire and spill response among other items) I'm planning on using this video as part of our overall training program.

In general we've removed all vertical fire blanket holders from laboratories (teaching and research) since my understanding is 1) you want to discourage someone from running around the lab to the fire blanket when the appropriate immediate response is the S,D and R and 2) the chimney effect discussed in the initial post. Incidentally, we also discourage using the shower as a primary extinguishing mechanism for the same reason as above, so people aren't running around the room on fire fanning the flames.

However, we've not necessarily required the removal of all fire blankets such as those in a dispenser box that do not encourage the stand up wrapping of an individual. I do recall in previous discussions that one specific area where fire blankets are useful is if you have students or employees with limited mobility, i.e. if a person can't, on their own, S, D and R you should have an alternate method of smothering a fire.

As a side note, we've also addressed discussing ahead of time evacuation procedures for limited mobility students and employees (both in the video and now in our safety manual) during evacuations. Four of our major undergraduate labs are on the 11th floor of a building so fire evacuations of someone unable to descend the stairs under their own power is a serious issue that needs addressing (and may require an appropriate shelter-in-place rather than risk injury, of both the person being moved and the people moving him/her, down the stair).

And, since it was brought up, we also briefly address the "modesty" issue when using showers in our video commenting that if someone goes into the shower that "[paraphrased] lab coats or other clothing may need to be provided for modesty."

Of course there are multiple reasons people won't use a lab shower, preferring to put it off until they reach a locker room or home. Modesty is one. But, lack of tempered water, lack of use so the water is dirty and simply concerned about the damage it might cause (many, many showers are installed in areas without immediate floor drains, or drains that are on the other side of the room). And, I do worry about showers where the water might create other hazards; I've seen showers installed directly above electrical outlets, for example. Of course, all these COULD be addressed, (showers with curtains, tempering water, more frequent testing) but that all costs money.

Knock on wood, I've only seen one truly emergency use of eyewash/showers. 25 years ago I worked in a lab were a fellow undergrad splashed 10N NaOH in one eye (no safety glasses...he was only working with a small pipette full, but he got some on his fingers, the small scintillation vial he was using as a reaction chamber - no, not radioactive - slipped from his fingers and the resulting splash got into an eye). He managed to get to the eyewash immediately, an action the doctor said may have saved his eyesight, although I've lost track of him over the years and don't know if he suffered any long-term damage. Anyway, the eyewash was there and helped him. I also remember shoving garbage cans under it to collect water and resulting several inches of water that built up on the lab, ran into the hall and caused extensive havoc. To this day I use it to 1) remind me and anybody I'm training or teaching the importance of eye protection no matter how small the amount, 2) the impo!
rtance of eye washes and safety showers being available. And, yet, I still worry about the destruction it might cause should I personally need to use one in an emergency and can see myself in a small spill weighing that destruction vs. trying to get to a sink or "real" shower.


On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 11:47 PM, Don Abramowitz > wrote:
On the post-shower/decon modesty question, I think a lab coat beats a blanket. The FR coats are pretty opaque even when wet, an added advantage over white polyester blends!


Donald Abramowitz, CIH
Environmental Health & Safety Officer
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA

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**> |<>

Jeff Lewin
Departmental Laboratory Supervisor
Biological Sciences
Michigan Technological University

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