From: Jeffrey Lewin <jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire drill and emergency gas shut-off valves
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:55:17 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAEwQnqiyRMvGnszsH6u2XnqpZ7EKgF0P4ixGiX0+o-JpNSfmcQ**At_Symbol_Here**

I, personally, think fire drills (as opposed to facility testing to make sure the equipment works) for classes or labs has some significant challenges that make them not very practical. Yes, practice makes perfect but the multitude of buildings, class times, locations, etc. just doesn't work very well because each scenario is different. Even in our research building (plus three teaching labs and two large lecture halls) with our Department potentially spread over 6 floors (of a 9 story building), with a dozen exits (two of which dump into adjacent buildings), and faculty, staff and graduate students with flexible schedules, establishing a meeting place and knowing who is, and who isn't, in the building is a huge challenge. And, unfortunately, I find people quit taking a real alarm seriously if they think it "is just a drill."

My preference is to address it the first day of class placing it at the importance level of syllabus, grading scales, how to contact the Dean of Students, etc. At that point you have everyone's attention and can discuss the location of the nearest and alternate exits, where to gather (since I don't take daily attendance and only do a rough count of how many students I have in class, I'm dependent on them remembering their adjacent seat mates), and if there are stairs (many of our teaching labs are on the 11th floor of the tallest building on campus), reminding students who might not be able to traverse them to contact me after class to privately discuss shelter in place options.

At the laboratory level, we've formalized this by including evacuation procedures in our "safety" video (it also addresses wearing PPE, "Stop, Drop and Roll," eye wash and safety shower use and when to call 9-1-1.).

That said, the last two years I have done a roll playing scenario with in one of my lectures:

They are in the current classroom, however it is night time and cloudy. The lights go out, and the backup lights don't come on. Then the fire alarm goes off. The instructor says "Okay everyone lets...." he stops talking and there is a thump. I then tell everyone to close their eyes and ask them "what do you do."

Both years, students began feeling their way out of the room (now they know why backpacks in the walkway can be a problem). This year a few students quickly took out their cell phones and put on their flashlight app (I think they thought about it last year, but thought it would be "cheating" my scenario). In both years nobody bothered to check on the poor unconscious instructor...


On Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM, David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
The problem with making people turn off gas as they leave is just one extra thing to think about. It=E2=80™s fine to do, but really it does just shut off gas to that one room - not to the building. As most of these switches are electronic in nature, I would hope that they would be tied in to the fire system, meaning that when the fire system goes off, the gas is automatically shut off. I don't know if that's how they work now but it's a no brainer to make them work like that in the future.

Our school has talked about fire drills, and I'm kind of torn on that. The academic issue, which is what college is about, is this. There are only 42 days a semester on average, and every day is planned out.. Missing a day is actually difficult for faculty. With that, on any given day you have no idea how many kids are in your room, and you will not reach every kid anyway, as there are no times during the day where every student is in a class. At our school we can make a good guess, but attendance is not taken. Add to that the fact that students are paying for education, and in many cases paying a lot, it's hard to justify a period off. I'm assuming with this you will pick the most used time bank at your school, to reach the most students. But, students are often in 3 or more buildings per day, are you going to address that?

I've kind of fought it here (can you tell), but a compromise is as follows. I think the most unwilling of the group, the faculty, should have to go through fire drills. If not fire drills exactly (as it would be hard to mimic that situation), at least the evacuation process for every building they are in. As long as the faculty knows where to go and how to evacuate, they can guide the students without much issue.

Students do fire alarms in their dorms constantly, either because they pull the alarms themselves or because the fire dept. does annual tests. They know the drills. Dorms/houses are where they spend a lot of time, and where they sleep - so I would focus on that. It's important to get them out of bed when groggy (so that they don't go to that important class the next day ;).

I think a compromise would be to train the faculty, and then have them go over exit procedures in class sometime.. It's not perfect, but I think it would work overall. And that way every kid will participate in the discussion with minimal disruption to education.

Be safe all


On Sep 26, 2014, at 12:24 AM, Laurence Doemeny <ldoemeny**At_Symbol_Here**COX.NET> wrote:

First and foremost is the safety of the occupants, and the rapid and complete evacuation of the building. Floor wardens should assure and report the clearing of the building. Regarding the shut-off of gas I would think that there is an external gas shut-off that would serve the purpose. Explore this option.
Laurence Doemeny
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL..EDU] On Behalf Of Rogers, Janet
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2014 3:34 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] fire drill and emergency gas shut-off valves
To All:
We were recently notified that unannounced fire drills will be taking place on campus. In our new laboratory rooms, we have both emergency gas shut-off valves near the hallway doors and electricty shut-off buttons. If a fire drill occurs while we are in the laboratory, is it recommended that we shut off the gas and/or electricity to the labs as we exit? One of my colleagues raised the question and I thought one of you would know what would be considered best practice.
Janet Rogers, Ph.D.
Chemistry Department
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
230 Scotland Road
Edinboro, PA 16444

Jeff Lewin
Departmental Laboratory Supervisor
Biological Sciences
Michigan Technological University

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