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Advice From the OSHA Expert: Fire Drill

Dan Scungio talks about fire drills

by Dan Scungio • September 11, 2019


Dan Scungio
Dan, the Lab Safety Man

Whether you collect blood in one location or in several, fire safety is a topic you should always have in the forefront of your mind while at work. I often find that employers overlook this important aspect of employee safety. When I perform safety audits, I notice that many who perform phlebotomy just do not have sufficient fire safety training and education. Unfortunately, when a fire occurs, this lack of training can be deadly.

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) requires that every laboratory employee be trained in the use of a fire extinguisher. There is no requirement for this to be done annually, but I would recommend it in order to always be comfortable with extinguisher operation. While not all clinical laboratories are CAP-accredited, this is still good safety sense. The most common acronym used to remember the steps of fire extinguisher operation is P.A.S.S.

P = pull the pin
A = aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
S = squeeze the handle
S = sweep from side to side

Knowing your fire evacuation routes and walking to your evacuation meeting location are not CAP requirements, but they are best safety practices. It is important to remember that if you have a designated evacuation meeting place that you gather there during an evacuation, no matter where in the facility you may be when an emergency occurs. For example, if you are in the cafeteria when a lab evacuation is announced and you do not go to your meeting location, it could mean trouble. If you are not accounted for by your coworkers, fire rescue personnel may be sent in after you unnecessarily. Their lives could be placed in danger when yours is not.

So how do you remember how to respond to a fire? A commonly-used acronym is R.A.C.E., which stands for:

  • Rescue
  • Alarm or Alert
  • Confine
  • Extinguish

You can contact Dan Scungio, “Dan the Lab Safety Man” at [email protected].


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