From: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**OKCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire drill and emergency gas shut-off valves
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:26:11 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: D04EE1C4.54B4%jnail**At_Symbol_Here**

In regards to Margaret Rakas's and Jeff Lewin's comments -

Margaret - "I don't understand concerns over 'losing a day' when drills can be held  with students back in the building in roughly 15 minutes or less; ours are usually around 10 minutes (we can evacuate our newest science building in 2 min 32 seconds). " 

Comment: If the fire drill occurs in the middle of a chemistry lab, the students' and instructors' first priority should be to make the lab safe - all electrical equipment gets unplugged, all volatile flammables be put in a fume hood or flammables cabinet, etc., BEFORE students can evacuate. This can lead to a loss of a lab day + some chemical waste if the students are unable to reboot their work during that lab period. So, yes, a 15 minute fire drill can result in the loss of a lab day, particularly bad for a lab that meets 15 times per semester (1X per week). 

Yes, I have had conversations with my supervisors about my class being the last one out of the building - I also know of a real situation in which people evacuated because of an alarm and returned to find a real fire had started in their absence.

Jeff  - "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."  "
During the first meeting of each lab each semester, I close the doors to my windowless lab and shut the lights off without warning, then ask the students to identify which way to move (right or left) to get out of their bench bay (most of which sadly, dead end at a wall), then which way to move (right or left) to find an exit. I also strongly suggest that they identify primary and secondary exits for both the lab room and the building.

Supposedly, most people will only leave a room via the door in which they entered, which can be a problem when everyone is trying to exit via the same door in an emergency.

Just my $0.02 worth.

John Nail
Professor of Chemistry
Oklahoma City University

From: Margaret Rakas <mrakas**At_Symbol_Here**SMITH.EDU>
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Date: Monday, September 29, 2014 9:48 AM
To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] fire drill and emergency gas shut-off valves

Our town fire department requires us to hold an unannounced fire drill each semester in our science/engineering buildings, and while I am delighted, even our faculty do not protest..  Frankly, I am surprised  that there are town fire departments who do not insist on this.  We also hold them in our student housing although I am not responsible for that and am not sure whether it's once/year or once/semester.

I don't understand concerns over 'losing a day' when drills can be held  with students back in the building in roughly 15 minutes or less; ours are usually around 10 minutes (we can evacuate our newest science building in 2 min 32 seconds).  In the fall we schedule the drill during the first two weeks of class (it's nice weather); in the spring, the day or two after spring break.  The drills are always held within a minute or two after the first morning or afternoon class starts, so we don't interrupt tests, lab classes, etc.  We do not take attendance or expect faculty to do so; the alarms are now loud enough no one even considers not leaving the building.  This isn't a perfect system--not every science student is present on the day a drill is held--but faculty generally are, and the training is discussed in all lab sections and during independent research safety training.

STUDENTS need to know how to get out of a building, particularly a science building, where the risks are higher.   They need to practice.  We have students doing research at night and on the weekends (via the buddy system), so they need to know how to take care of themselves when faculty and staff are likely not here...

My two cents' worth...

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'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

Margaret A. Rakas, Ph.D.
Manager, Inventory & Regulatory Affairs
Clark Science Center
413-585-3877 (p)

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