Hazardous Compressed Gas Storage in Laboratories by Rob Velez

Following a recent laboratory incident involving a defective cylinder of compressed fluorine gas - which fortunately is stored and used only within a chemical fume hood - EH&S has strengthened its partnerships with other laboratories storing and using hazardous gases, establishing and reinforcing best storage and monitoring practices. 
Hazardous gases are regulated by a complex set of rules and standards at all levels of government, including the New York City and State Fire Code, Building Code, Mechanical Code, Fire Code of New York State and the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals (NFPA 45). Together, these rules establish possession quantity limits and storage requirements, including specific ventilation and leak detection conditions. 
In order to ensure the continued safety of the University research community, EH&S is partnering with Morningside’s Capital Project Management team to develop a set of guidelines to assist laboratories in safely storing lecture bottles and cylinders containing hazardous gases based on current infrastructure, as well as for future projects. 
In general, the quantity of flammable, toxic and oxidizing gases in any laboratory at a given time is limited to a specific amount of gas, measured cubic feet, or for gases in lecture bottles, which often contain the most highly toxic and reactive substances found in labs, a maximum of 25 individual lecture bottles per laboratory.  Automatic leak detection systems are required for toxic and highly toxic gases, as well as flammable gas systems.  The use of mechanical ventilation is required where dangerous gases are used. Toxic gases in lecture bottles can be kept in a functioning fume hood or ventilated fume hood cabinet (EH&S recommends the use of racks for storing lecture bottles) and larger toxic gas cylinders must be stored in a ventilated cabinet.  Please contact EH&S with any questions related to the storage or use of compressed gases in your lab.
Gas Cylinders

Your Options to Control & Extinguish a Fire by Harry J. Oster

In order to be successful at controlling and extinguishing a fire, one must first know and understand the components – known as the “fire tetrahedron” - required for a fire to occur: fuel, heat and oxygen; the removal of any one of these items breaks the chain reaction required to ignite a fire.  When this happens, the fire can be controlled and extinguished.

For example, the use a fire extinguisher would remove the heat from fire thus cooling the materials and the fire is extinguished.
However, if a fire extinguisher was not available, what other options might you have to successfully control and extinguish a fire?
Let’s consider the example of a lit Bunsen burner.   Simply and safely turning off the gas supply valve, removes the fuel, and thus extinguishes the fire.  If a container of flammable material is on fire, simply and safely covering the container with a non-combustible cover, smothering the air supply, would remove the fire’s oxygen , extinguishing the flames.

Whether in the lab, on-campus, or at home, knowing and understanding the components required for a fire to occur reveals other options besides the use of a fire extinguisher that can be utilized to successfully control and extinguish a fire.
Finally, remember: before attempting to control or extinguish any fire, your first action should be to activate the building’s fire alarm by pulling the red colored fire alarm box located at each stairwell and at the ground floor exits of the building.

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