Monday, February 18, 2019

Update from St. Andrews

Credit: University of St. Andrews
A remarkably thorough report from St. Andrews, especially consider the fire happened 6 days before the report. As respected folks have noted on Twitter, at some point, it would be good to get more detail on this paragraph:
It began on the third floor of BMS late on Sunday afternoon when a routine post-experiment wash-up went wrong. Colleagues followed safety procedures to the letter – a fire blanket was used immediately to try to extinguish the first flames in room 305, and when that failed they raised the alarm and evacuated.
I'll note that I don't have a ton of experience fighting serious fires, i.e. most of the laboratory fires that I have dealt with (three or four) have been instances where a fire extinguisher was sufficient to put out the flames. There is an aspect of "I will get this thing back under control" that I am sure every laboratory chemist feels, but fire is a beast unto itself, and I am guessing there are insufficient fire extinguishers in the typical laboratory to deal with, say, a working 8-foot hood doing organic chemistry that has gone up and is emitting 4-5 foot flames. (Note: I am not a chemical safety expert, nor a fire expert.)

Be careful out there, folks. Glad to hear that everyone at St. Andrews is safe. 


  1. You might have a chance with a 20 lb dry chemical. When I was in school, we had a 50 lb dry chemical on a cart in our lab - you could fight some serious fire with that baby!

  2. Near enough the same view, better days