The UTPB campus fire alarm system is being monitoring 24-7 via a GE FireWorks graphical interface system. This system operates on a fiber optic loop connected to every building fire panel on the UTPB campus. All academic and most of the housing buildings on the UTPB campus have simultaneous reporting to the City of Odessa Dispatch, University Police and EH&S. EH&S oversees over 1,200 alarm initiating devices, 550 portable fire extinguishers, and 39 buildings with sprinkler systems as well as 4 special hazard systems.
What Can You Do to Reduce The Risk of a Fire?
Fire risks of flammable and combustible liquid can be minimized by understanding the fire hazard presented by chemicals used in the laboratory. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) classifies most flammable and combustible chemicals according to the severity of the fire hazard with numbers 0 to 4 in order of increasing hazard visual presentation: 0 will not burn; 1 must be preheated to burn; 2 ignites when moderately heated; 3 ignites at normal temperature; 4 extremely flammable. Apply the following precautions to minimize fire risks:
- Use properly labeled containers. Many labels list NFPA ratings. MSDS's should also be consulted.
- Use special care when handling flammable liquids with flash points near or below 38°C because these chemicals increase the flammability threat in a normal laboratory environment.
- Keep containers of flammable substances tightly closed at all times when not in use.
- Use flammable liquids in a fume hood. The hood provides ventilation to prevent buildup of ignitable vapor/air mixtures or inhalation of toxic vapors or gases.
- Avoid placing ignition sources (hot materials, flames or sparking equipment) in the general vicinity of these liquids. If possible replace open flames by electrical heating.
- Ground equipment likely to produce a static spark.
- The volatility and hazards of flammable liquids are increased by heating. Additional safety requirements are necessary when flammable and combustible liquids are heated to or above their flash points. These include proper ventilation, protection from ignition sources, and electrical area classifications. Consult EH&S for further assistance.
- Compressed or liquefied gases present special fire hazards. Refer to EH &S Compressed Gas Safety Manual (PDF).
Flammable and combustible liquids, including waste solvents in quantities greater than ten gallons, must be stored in approved flammable liquid storage cabinets. Cabinets must be placed where they will not obstruct egress.
Safety cans are constructed of stainless steel, or tin and come equipped with a flame arrestor and spring-loaded cap on both the filling and pouring spouts. The double-perforated metal surface of the flame-arrestor screen prevents flames from entering the container. Safety cans are available for both dispensing products and collecting waste. Safety cans shall not be modified.
Commercially-available, domestic refrigerators contain built-in ignition sources and shall not be used to store flammable liquids or explosive chemicals. Light bulbs, switches, temperature controls, standard plugs, motor-starting relays, thermal-overload devices, and heater strips (for frost control) are all ignition sources.
Anyone who needs a refrigerator to store flammable liquids or explosives should use refrigerators specifically designed and approved for such use. Refrigerators and freezers that have either been specifically designed or modified to store flammable and/or combustible liquids safely shall be labeled as such. Labels are available from EH&S.
Corridors and Exits
All laboratory buildings are provided with egress systems (corridors, stairs, doors) to meet the requirements of the Uniform Building Code and NFPA Life Safety Code. This egress system provides building occupants with a safe way out of the building, as well as the Fire Department with a way into buildings, in the event of emergencies. To maintain the integrity of the egress system, the requirements below shall be observed:
- Corridors must always remain free of obstructions or impediments, and combustible or flammable materials cannot be stored here.
- Exit doors, including the floor area on both sides of the exit door, must be kept clear and accessible at all times.
- Corridor doors must never be blocked or wedged open.
- All penetrations made to walls and floors to accommodate piping, electrical conduit, wiring, or ducts must be properly sealed with approved fire-stopping materials.
If you have any questions, please contact EH&S us at x2490, or email us at EHS@utpb.edu