From: Ken Smith <ken.smith**At_Symbol_Here**UCOP.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Fire extinguisher use in chem labs by instructors
Date: Fri, 4 Dec 2015 15:37:32 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: BY1PR0601MB1158A6CDAE57FF427696B3028C0C0**At_Symbol_Here**

For what it worth, we removed from our introductory training courses any reference to P.A.S.S. In my opinion without actually having a hands-on portion to FE training providing instructions or setting expectations that individuals are capable of safely fighting a fire in the incipient stage is foolish at best. This is for the reasons that Rob and Ralph indicated.

Instead we are using the R.A.C.E acronym: Rescue; Alarm; Contain; and the last E for Evacuate (not Extinguish).

I'd rather any day of year have all personnel accounted for in emergency assembly evacuation area with a fire still activity burning and spreading in the building than for a person to have injured themselves trying to fight a fire. Once the people are safe this is only a property claim.

Besides most modern era buildings will have fire suppression and control systems (sprinklers, smoke dampers, ejectors, etc.) that will contain, suppress, and if lucky extinguish a fire long before the FD is on scene much less ready for an entry.


University of California
Office of the President
Executive Director of EH&S
voice (510) 882-3499

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Ralph Stuart
Sent: Friday, December 4, 2015 5:30 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Fire extinguisher use in chem labs by instructors

> > But they MUST be trained to make that fight or flight decision

In my experience, this is the big challenge. Most fire extinguisher training I have seen is a review of P.A.S.S. and perhaps a hands on chance to try it out. This misses out on the factors Rob enumerates on his web site about when to use the extinguisher. We had a grease fire in a dorm kitchen last semester and the student involved couldn't remember if the fire extinguisher available was water or dry chemical based, so she abandoned the situation and called the fire department. This was the correct decision, but some of the feedback she received suggested that she had mishandled the situation by not using the extinguisher.

Given the diversity of skills of the employee population in a lab setting, developing and maintaining the ability to make the fight or flight decision is a safety culture challenge rather than a training challenge. The CSB videos on research and teaching lab fires provide interesting examples of this.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.