Chemistry Department Fire

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Review of Recent Chemistry Department Fires : 

1 Review of Recent Chemistry Department Fires Environmental Health and Safety University of California, Santa Cruz Accident/Near Miss Investigation

Message from Campus Risk Manager : 

2 Message from Campus Risk Manager “UC's property insurance underwriters are presently very suspicious of UC lab safety practices given the two big and relatively recent fires and our increased insurance rates reflect this suspicion.  I believe the only way we can convince them we are taking the matter seriously is to take the matter seriously.”

Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 : 

3 Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 Just before 5:00 pm on Monday, July 21, a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) student, was performing a chemical reduction process in Thimann 330 using the reactive metal catalyst, Raney Nickel. As the fire became larger (“higher than (his) head”), he left the room and sought help from another Student in the office across the hall - yelling “fire” as he did so.

Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 : 

4 Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03

Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 : 

5 Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03

Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 : 

6 Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03

Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03 : 

7 Thimann 330 Fire 7-21-03

Factors Under Consideration : 

8 Factors Under Consideration Lack of supervision with attention to health and safety within Graduate Student/SURF mentoring relationship. Lack of clear communication of mentoring responsibilities to Graduate Student assigned to SURF student. “Lone” worker with little experience in this process working with reactive metals and highly flammable materials without any apparent supervision in the building.

Factors Under Consideration : 

9 Factors Under Consideration Experimental procedure was not reviewed by anyone with adequate experience to judge hazards and recommend mitigations. No written procedures with hazards and mitigations that applied to this lab and/or process (neither for the specific reaction, the use of Rainey nickel or other reactive metal catalysts) were present in the room or reviewed by the researchers.

Factors Under Consideration : 

10 Factors Under Consideration The initial spread of the fire apparently took place as a result of acetone spilled in and around the sink while cleaning glassware without secondary containment. No lab-specific discussion or procedure for response to fire/release based on scope/scale or specific material/process - no written specific emergency response procedures.

Factors Under Consideration : 

11 Factors Under Consideration Many flammable liquids stored in squeeze bottles are routinely left on bench top, although repeatedly warned by Lab Safety Representative of inherent dangers in this practice. Procedures were performed without any secondary containment and on the bench top instead of inside of hood.

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

12 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 A fire occurred in the fume hood of Thimann 122 at approximately 9:30 am. Inside the fume hood a bottle containing hexadecylamine was placed on a hot plate set to the maximum heat setting. After about 10 minutes flames erupted from the surface of the hot plate, encompassing the hot plate and bottle. Prior to the eruption of flame, E. was the filling a dewer, near the hot plate with isopropanol from a squirt bottle. E. noticed that excessive heat was being generated from the hot plate. There was a pop sound and the bottle had broken. E. moved away from the fume hood carrying the squirt bottle with him, and T. inspected the bottle to determine a safe way to remove it. Seconds later flames erupted from just bellow the surface of the hot plate.

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

13 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

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14 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

15 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

16 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

17 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

18 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03 : 

19 Thimann 122 Fire 9-23-03

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

20 Thimann 344 9-30-03 Glassware was rinsed with alcohol and put in the lab oven for drying while it was still wet with solvent. The solvent volatilized and ignited, blowing open the oven door. A small fire broke out in the over, which was extinguished by a lab occupant using a fire extinguisher.

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

21 Thimann 344 9-30-03

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

22 Thimann 344 9-30-03

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

23 Thimann 344 9-30-03

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

24 Thimann 344 9-30-03

Thimann 344 9-30-03 : 

25 Thimann 344 9-30-03 Minimal damage to counter and floor – could have been catastrophic if any one of several factors had slightly changed. The Fire Department estimated the likely loss of the adjoining labs, much of the third floor and possibly the building had the fire not been put out by Y.

Hazard Assessment and Control : 

26 Hazard Assessment and Control Identify Chemicals and Conditions of Use. Evaluate Types and Degree of Hazard. Consider Possible Contingencies. Evaluate Consequences of Mishaps. Select Appropriate Control Procedures. Consult Sources of Information and/or Get Help From Competent Mentor. Develop Clear, Written Safe Operating Procedures (SOP) for Processes that Entail Significant Risk Especially if Repeated or Performed by Others. Prevent and Prepare for Contingencies. Supervise Less Experienced Researchers Working with High Hazard Procedures Until They Demonstrate Mastery

If There Is a Fire: : 

27 If There Is a Fire: 1. Alert People in the Immediate Area - Yell Fire! 2. Evacuate the Room and Affected Areas. 3. Immediately Activate the Fire Alarm – Then If It Is a 4. Small Fire – Use Fire Extinguisher Only If It Is Safe and You Are Trained, Always Have a Clear and Safe Exit Path for Your Self. If the Fire Is Not Extinguished After Initial Use of an Extinguisher Close the Door and Evacuate the Building. 5. Large Fire – Close the Door and Evacuate the Building. 6. Evacuate to Safe Area Through Stairwell - Do Not Use Elevator. 7. Call 911 or Station a Person to Assist Emergency Personnel. 8. Stay Out of the Building Until the Fire Department Has Cleared it– Whether the Alarm is Still on or Not.

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