Vol 5. Issue 30 / October 10, 2005
Fire Prevention 101
By Mika Ono
Fall brings cooler weather, the Santa Ana winds… and fire season.
In addition to generally dry conditions in states like California, fire hazards spring up for reasons that might not be immediately obvious. "In the fall, people exchange many outdoor activities for indoor leisure," says John Murphy, safety coordinator in The Scripps Research Institute's Department of Environmental Health and Safety on the La Jolla campus. "They turn on the furnace for the first time in months. They rediscover their fireplace..."
Not coincidentally, the National Fire Protection Association has chosen to name this coming week, October 9 through 15, "Fire Prevention Week" in memory of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless. Fire Prevention Week provides an opportunity for everyone to review fire safety issues.
"A few simple steps can go a long way toward fire prevention and safety," says Murphy, "and that's true both at home and in the lab."
Murphy's top safety tips include:
In general, planning ahead is critical because, as Murphy knows from personal experience, smoke and fire can spread incredibly quickly. "A shorted electrical circuit once set my living room on fire," he recalls. "It only took a few seconds for the room to be filled with smoke, leaving very little time to react." Luckily, in this case the fire was quickly contained.
As a service of the La Jolla campus's Environmental Health and Safety department, Murphy offers training on how to use fire extinguishers. The half-hour training sessions offer participants the chance to use an extinguisher to put out a real fire.
"Putting out an actual fire gives people confidence," he says. "It also can demonstrate an extinguisher's limitations."
In fact, he cautions, there is only so much a fire extinguisher can do. "In case of fire, put your safety first," he advises. "I'll show you how to use an extinguisher, but when in doubt, get out of the building."
To schedule a training session for your Scripps Research group, contact Murphy at x4-8240 or email email@example.com.
Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu
Scripps Research's Environmental Health and Safety Department offers training on how to use fire extinguishers to groups on the La Jolla campus.