January 1996 (1st Revision)
August 1998 (2nd Revision)
(Modified for WebPage October 1998)
August 1999 (3rd Revision)
October 2006 (4th Revision)
October 8, 2009 (Reviewed)
June 1, 2012 (5th Revision)
January 29, 2018 (Reviewed)
Office of Safety and Environmental Programs
School of Marine Science
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
College of William & Mary
Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The purpose of this plan is to circulate procedures which will minimize hazards to employees, the public, and the environment from fire and to satisfy the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.38 (b) which specifies a written Fire Prevention Plan. The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for ensuring that all employers provide a fire safety plan for their facilities is presented in subpart L of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 1910.155. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has produced a series of standards which cover all aspects of fire prevention including the Life Safety Code for various types of buildings. The Commonwealth of Virginia has adopted both OSHA and NFPA standards.
This plan is not intended to deal with all the complexities of fire prevention in building design, fire protection systems, high-hazard exposures, compliance with legal ordinances, or the many technicalities of fire prevention. It is meant to serve as an outline of the various aspects of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)/School of Marine Science (SMS) fire prevention program and as a resource for all faculty, staff, and students, especially work area supervisors, who must carry out specific procedures in this plan.
All VIMS/SMS personnel are strongly encouraged to become familiar with the contents of this plan. Copies of this plan are available for review by any employee via the VIMS webpage. Type "Fire Prevention Plan" in the Search box.
This plan covers all employees, students, volunteers, and contractors who may become directly or indirectly involved in any fire situation associated with VIMS/SMS. The fire prevention policy is designed to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to preserve life, property, and the environment from exposure to fire hazards. The plan identifies the basic elements of the VIMS/SMS fire prevention program and are part of every supervisor's day-to-day responsibilities.
C. Responsibilities of Specific Administrators
1. Director of Safety and Environmental Programs:
Develop, coordinate, implement, and maintain the VIMS/SMS Fire Prevention Plan.
Maintain a list of all VIMS/SMS personnel who have received formal fire extinguisher training.
Provide sufficient fire extinguishers of the types currently in use at VIMS/SMS to accomplish the hands-on training requirement and to replace those taken out of service for maintenance.
Replace fire extinguishers which have been discharged.
2. Director of Facilities Management:
Provide logistical and maintenance support as required in support of this plan.
Maintain a listing of all fire extinguishers on the VIMS/SMS campus excluding those on vessels. Perform monthly, annual and 6-year mandatory inspections and maintenance. (Line 2 & 3 Moved Down, word Monthly added to correct inspection cycle)
3. Department and Work Center Heads and Supervisors
Designate specific individuals in each area or building under her or his authority to receive fire extinguisher training if required in the normal discharge of duties. The Office of Safety and Environmental Programs will provide the required training.
4. Scientist in Charge of the Wachapreague Facility
Serve as point of contact with the Wachapreague Volunteer Fire Company for scheduling fire extinguisher training.
Maintain a list of persons who have completed training.
5. Maintain a master listing of all fire extinguishers used on boats. Ensure required monthly, yearly, and 6-yearly inspections and maintenance is carried out.
II. FIRE EVACUATION, REPORTING AND FIRE FIGHTING PROCEDURES
The Code of Federal Regulations permits employers to select from among several options relative to the procedures to be followed in the event of a fire in a work area depending on whether or not fire extinguishers are provided and if designated personnel have been trained in their use. The VIMS/SMS policy is that buildings and vehicles shall be evacuated upon discovery of a fire and that only those persons who have received proper training in the use of portable fire extinguishers shall attempt to fight the fire in its early stages if it can be controlled.
Fires aboard vessels are a special situations in which evacuation, that is abandoning the vessel, might not be the best initial course of action. Actions to be taken in response to a fire aboard a vessel underway shall be determined by the vessel captain or operator. In making such decisions, the captain or operator shall put the highest priority on protection of all persons from harm with protection of equipment, including the vessel itself, being secondary.
B. Evacuation Policy
The evacuation policy is based upon whether or not the fire is of an interior or exterior nature. All vessel fires are considered to be interior for the purposes of this plan due to the danger of being trapped below deck.
1. Interior - Fires in interior workplaces pose a greater hazard to employees. They can produce greater exposure to quantities of smoke, toxic gases, and heat because of the capability of a building or structure to contain or entrap these combustion products
2. Exterior - Work areas which are normally open to the environment are somewhat less hazardous because the products of combustion generally are carried away by the thermal column of the fire. Employees also have a greater selection of evacuation routes if it is necessary to abandon any ongoing employee firefighting actions.
C. Interior Fires
Upon discovery of any interior fire, the following procedures shall be followed:
1. Activate the building fire alarm if one exists in the building.
2. If the building is not equipped with a fire alarm system, start a verbal alert to warn all personnel of the danger and to order them to leave the building immediately. Leave the area immediately; if possible without compromising safety, close all windows and doors in the vicinity of the fire.
3. From a telephone in a safe location, Dial 911 and provide the Gloucester County Emergency Dispatcher with the following information:
a. Your name
b. The building address and room number you are calling from will automatically be displayed at the Dispatcher's location. If the fire is in a different building, provide that information.
c. Nature of the fire and any specific information which may be valuable to the fire department such toxic chemicals that may be encountered or any incapacitated or trapped personnel that you are aware of.
If you cannot contact the Gloucester County Emergency Dispatcher, dial O and provide the above information to the VIMS/SMS console operator who shall in turn summon emergency assistance. The console operator should notify the Office of Safety and Environmental Programs whenever emergency services are called to VIMS/SMS.
4. Even if properly trained in the use of fire extinguishers, before you consider fighting an interior fire:
a. Make sure everyone has left the immediate area or is leaving.
b. Make sure the Gloucester County Emergency Dispatcher or the VIMS/SMS console operator has been notified.
c. Make sure you are familiar with the operation of the portable fire extinguisher in the area.
d. Decide your primary and secondary means of egress if the firefighting is unsuccessful.
5. Never attempt to fight an interior fire if any of the following conditions exist:
a. If the fire is spreading beyond the immediate area where it started, or is already a large fire.
b. If the fire could block your escape.
c. If you are unsure of the proper operation of the fire extinguisher.
If any of the above conditions exist, it is reckless to attempt to fight the fire with a portable extinguisher. Instead, leave the area immediately; if possible without compromising safety, close all windows and doors in the immediate area of the fire.
6. In the event you are trapped in a building and cannot escape:
a. Call 911 or O and advise the dispatcher or console operator of your location and the fact that you are trapped. After notifying Gloucester County Emergency Services, the console operator should notify the Office of Safety and Environmental Programs.
b. If you get caught in smoke, get down on your hands and knees and stay low. Smoke and hot fumes rise, so the cleanest air is near the floor.
c. If the fire is on the other side of the door to the room you are in, try to seal the doorway so that smoke and fumes cannot enter your room.
d. If water is available in the room, use a wet rag or a piece of your clothing as a filter to breathe through.
e. If there is a tub in the area fill it with water and stay in the tub. Keep your head covered with a wet cloth.
D. Exterior Fires
Upon discovery of any exterior fire, the following procedures shall be followed:
1. If the fire poses a threat to any immediately adjacent structure, inform someone inside the building so that personnel can evacuate the area.
2. Dial 911 and provide the Gloucester County Emergency Dispatcher with the following information:
a. Your name
b. Location of the fire at VIMS/SMS, if different from the location you are calling from. Use buildings or other readily identifiable landmarks for reference.
c. Nature of the fire, (automobile, brush, boat, etc.), any toxic chemicals or trapped personnel that you are aware of.
If you cannot contact the Gloucester County Emergency Dispatcher, dial O and provide the above information to the VIMS/SMS console operator who shall in turn summon emergency assistance. After contacting the emergency dispatcher, the console operator should notify the Office of Safety and Environmental Programs.
3. Before you attempt to fight an exterior fire:
a. In general, unless the area involved is a small patch of grass or brush and you have a water supply line available, it is best to leave the task to the fire company.
b. Automobile fires can be extremely hazardous due to the type of materials used for construction and the proximity of the fuel tank. Most automobiles contain synthetic materials which may produce cyanide and a host of other highly toxic gases when burned. Stay upwind at all times.
c. A minor fire in the engine compartment of a vehicle can be fought with a portable fire extinguisher if the hood can be opened a few inches and the contents of an appropriate portable fire extinguisher are directed through the opening. Do not raise the hood all the way open. If in doubt, activate the inside hood release mechanism and leave the vehicle. Keep others clear of the area.
E. Coordinating with the Fire Company
In the event the Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company is called, stand well away from the building, driveways, roads, and fire hydrants. Arrival of individual fire fighters and emergency apparatus can be hindered by you or your vehicle. If you have specific knowledge of the fire (nature, location, or hazards) stay nearby and inform the operator of the fire apparatus or a fire officer (white or red helmet), if one is available. If the VIMS/SMS Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) is on the scene, you can inform him or her and he or she will in turn ensure the information is provided to the fire personnel.
III. PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Portable fire extinguishers are designed to cope with fires of limited size. Fire extinguishers should be checked for use codes and used only on the type of fires for which the contents are specified.
Class "A" Use for paper, trash, rubbish products, etc.
Class "B" Used for oils, solvents, gas, grease, etc.
Class "C" Used for electrical.
Class "D" Used for metal.
All portable fire extinguishers currently being utilized within VIMS/SMS are of the dry chemical type ("triple purpose") and can be used on class A through C fires.
Extinguishers shall be conspicuously located where they shall be readily accessible and immediately available in the event of fire. They shall be located along normal routes of travel and, where practical, located near exits. Extinguishers must not be obstructed from view.
Extinguishers shall be installed on the hangers or brackets supplied and be installed so that the top of the extinguisher is not more than 5 feet above the floor. Extinguishers mounted in cabinets or wall recesses or set on shelves shall be placed so that the operating instructions face outward.
Portable extinguishers shall be maintained in a fully charged and operable condition. Staff under the direction of the Director for Facilities Management will perform the monthly visual inspection of portable fire extinguishers required under 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(2). The inspection is to ensure fire extinguishers are in their designated places, have not been tampered with or actuated, and are free from obvious physical damage, corrosion, or other impairments to service. Any extinguisher showing defects shall be removed and replaced with a fully serviceable unit. Staff shall maintain appropriate records of inspections through tagging of the extinguishers and others means as found appropriate.
The staff of Facilities Management shall conduct the annual and 6-year maintenance checks of portable fire extinguishers required uner 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(3) including maintenance of appropriate records. Fire extinguishers shall be replaced as necessary during this inspection. Any fire extinguisher removed from its designated location for maintenance or inspection shall be replaced by a spare extinguisher.
Each extinguisher shall have a durable tag securely attached to show inspections, maintenance and/or recharge dates. This tag shall also include the initials or signature of the person who performs the service.
Anyone noting a fire extinguisher in a location or condition that may compromise its operation, should contact the Office of Safety and Environmental Programs.
IV. FIRE ALARM, SPRINKLER, AND STANDPIPE SYSTEMS
The Director of Facilities Management is responsible for the scheduling of required routine maintenance for all buildings which have alarm, sprinkler, and standpipe systems. This service has been contracted out and is conducted in accordance with the various applicable National Fire Protection Association Standards. The Director of Facilities Management shall maintain appropriate records of such inspections and shall inform the VIMS Community of scheduled inspections.
V. FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE LIQUIDS
C. Sources of Ignition
In locations where flammable vapors may be present, precautions shall be taken to prevent ignition by eliminating or controlling sources of ignition. All electrical equipment and wiring shall be in accordance with the appropriate NFPA, National Electrical Code, and OSHA standards. Flammable liquids shall not be dispensed unless the nozzle and container are appropriately grounded to prevent ignition from static electricity. Open flames are not permitted in flammable or combustible storage areas. Hot work such as welding or cutting operations, use of spark-producing tools, and chipping operations shall be permitted only under supervision of a responsible individual in charge. The individual in charge shall make an inspection of the area to ensure that safety procedures are followed for the work specified. Specific supervisory responsibilities for safety of hot work are outlined in the National Fire Protection Association Standard number 51B. It shall be the responsibility of the person authorizing any hot work to ensure that a proper fire watch has been established. Additional requirements for fire prevention and protection associated with welding, cutting, and brazing are specified in 29 CFR 1910.252.
D. Storage and Use of Flammable Liquids
Flammable liquids required in small quantities for frequent use shall be stored in approved safety cans in a metal cabinet or closet ventilated to the outside where practical. All containers used for storage, issue, and transport of flammable liquids shall be clearly marked as to their contents in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 704.
Flammable liquids shall not be used for cleaning floors, clothing, or equipment.
VI. FIRE EXITS
Any swinging fire doors and any door in any stairwell designed to prevent the spread of fire shall be provided with positive latching mechanisms to hold it in the closed position against the pressure of expanding fire gases. Fire doors shall not be secured in the open position at any time. All exits and corridors must be kept free of obstructions at all times.
Each individual should know at least two exits, a primary and a secondary, from her or his usual work area.
Under no circumstances should elevators be used in the event of a fire. Elevators in Watermen's, Chesapeake Bay Hall, Andrews, and Davis are programmed to halt when a fire alarm pull station is activated from any location in the building. Every individual at VIMS/SMS is responsible for studying the posted building floor plan to ensure he or she is familiar with all available fire exits.
Activation of the fire alarm system in Chesapeake Bay Hall will causes the overhead fire door at the top of the third floor stairway landing to descend. Refer to paragraph XIII for additional procedures unique to Chesapeake Bay Hall.
VII. SMOKE DETECTORS
Smoke detectors have been installed in VIMS/SMS buildings. In buildings with central alarm systems, the detectors are tied into a control panel which will automatically activate the internal fire alarm system and alert the commercial monitoring firm who will notify Gloucester County Emergency Dispatch. Some VIMS/SMS buildings however are not wired with central alarm systems.
Regardless of the building, all VIMS/SMS smoke detectors are smoke ionization type detectors commonly found in home use. An ionization smoke detector has a small amount of radioactive material that ionizes air in the sensing chamber, allowing an electrical current to flow which in turn activates the alarm mechanism. Many of the detectors are hardwired into the building electrical system and also have a battery to ensure continued use in the event of a power failure. Other detectors are battery only powered. All detectors with batteries will emit a chirping sound when the battery requires replacement. If a smoke detector begins to chirp and there is no indication of smoke or a fire, do not disconnect the detector. Call the maintenance office and report the chirping condition so that an electrician can be sent to replace the battery.
Staff or contract services reporting to the Director of Facilities Management shall make a visual inspection of all smoke detectors at least semi-annually to identify missing detectors, detectors with impeded smoke entry, abnormally dirty detectors, and detectors no longer suitably located because of occupancy or structural changes. An annual test shall be performed with a suitable smoke or aerosol which shall activate the detector to ensure it is operating correctly. The staff in facilities management shall maintain an appropriate record of the inspections and tests.
VIII. SAFE PRACTICES
The easiest fire to extinguish is the one that never starts. Fire prevention is everybody's responsibility. Unsafe practices shall not be tolerated and, if repeated or if they should result in death, injury, or property damage, could be considered a Class 3 offense which is grounds for dismissal. The following safe practices are only common sense, yet they are often forgotten or ignored.
A. Flammables, including data sheets, books, rags, clothing, flammable liquids (solvents, thinners, cleaners) or rubbish shall not be placed or stored near heaters or their vents, any electrical appliance, or other potential sources of ignition. Ensure that trash and paper are set aside for recycling and not allowed to accumulate.
B. Sources of actual or potential heat such as hot plates, electric coffee pots, and welding or cutting apparatus will not be placed near flammable materials. Turn off nonessential electrical equipment at the end of each workday.
C. Care must be taken not to block potential escape routes, particularly with flammable materials.
D. Any gasoline or kerosene which must be stored inside, must be stored in an approved container and have the appropriate NFPA 704 markings readily visible. All portable storage cans must conform with 29 CFR 1910.106 (d) and any other applicable regulations.
E. Each individual is personally responsible for assuring that extension cords and multiple plugs are in good condition. Avoid overloading circuits.
F. Care must be taken at any construction/repair site or shop/lab area to avoid an accumulation of debris (wood shavings, saw dust, metal shavings, or fiberglass).
IX. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
It is the responsibility of every Department Head and work center supervisor to ensure that all persons under her or his supervision know how to get out of the building in the event of a fire or other emergency. An orderly evacuation depends on both an early and effective warning system and an individual awareness of the proper procedures to follow. Vessel captains should include a discussion of procedures to be followed in the event of fire in the vessel orientation and pre-cruise briefing.
The person in charge of each work area shall establish procedures to be followed regarding the evacuation of buildings or vessels in emergencies. Supervisors must be able to account for all persons reporting to them or known to have been in the area at the time of evacuation. Pre-determined assembly points shall be established at a safe distance for personnel accounting.
Due to the number of occupied buildings, their widespread locations, and diverse operations, it is not practical nor safely feasible to develop or manage each unique evacuation plan from a central office. Each work center supervisor shall ensure the contents of this plan are carried out and to develop any site specific sub-plans if required.
The Office of Safety and Environmental Programs will provide assistance in establishing building specific plans.
X. FIRE DRILLS
Experience has demonstrated that it is difficult to hold formal fire drills at VIMS/SMS. The consequences of interrupting ongoing experiments and the problems associated with the emergency or rapid shut down of sophisticated equipment are severe. Nevertheless, it is necessary that all persons on campus be aware of and reminded of the procedures to follow should there be a fire. All persons should remember that personal safety is more important than the experiment. Should a fire alarm sound, the situation should be treated as a true emergency in which data and equipment might have to be lost in order to assure personal safety. Department Heads and work center supervisors should review the contents of this document and the procedures to be followed in the event of a fire or other potentially life threatening emergency on at least an annual basis with all persons reporting to them.
XI. FIRE HAZARDS, GENERAL
Within the diverse collection of facilities and projects at VIMS/SMS there are multiple potential fire hazards. The preceding text indicates several specific hazards and the practices that should be used to minimize them. Many solvents used in laboratory procedures are flammable or combustible and must be used with care. Electrical equipment can become dangerously hot if the vent systems are blocked. Common work practices such as welding use flame. Other common procedures produce sparks. It is impossible to list every potential fire hazard. What is possible is for every person at VIMS/SMS to be aware of his or her environment and to work to minimize all hazards, including fire hazards. When someone discovers a real hazard, she or he should undertake to correct the problem or at least bring it to the attention of the Office of Safety and Environmental Programs.
The policy forbidding smoking in all areas of all buildings, including individual offices, and enclosed spaces (automobiles, trucks, vessel cabins, aircraft, etc.) under the management or control of VIMS/SMS is of significant benefit in reducing fire hazards.
XII. NFPA 704 SYMBOLS
NFPA 704 is a simple system of symbols and numbers that indicate the severity of the health, flammability, reactivity (instability), and other hazards of a substance or place.
The NFPA 704 diamond consists of 4 separate, color-coded fields. In 3 fields the relative hazard is indicated by a number from 0 (relatively benign) to 4 (very dangerous). The text of the NFPA 704 standard presents specific definitions for each number value for each type of hazard. Similarly, there are published listings with the NFPA 704 values for many substances.
The BLUE field (the "9 o'clock quadrant) is for health hazard of the substance within the labeled container or space when exposed to fire or spilled.
The RED field (the 12 o'clock position) is for the flammability of the substance within the labeled container or space.
The YELLOW field (the 3 o'clock position) is for the reactivity of the substance within the labeled container or space.
The WHITE field (the 6 o'clock position) is for special hazards such as materials that demonstrate unusual reactivity with water (the symbol is the letter W with a horizontal line through it) or materials that are oxidizers (the symbol is the letters OX).
When a container or space contains multiple substances, the level of hazard indicated in each field is the highest for that field of any substance within the container or space.
Example NFPA 704 diamond:
RED background -- Flammability
BLUE background -- Health Hazard
YELLOW background -- Reactivity (Instability)
WHITE background -- Special Hazards (blank = none noted)
Scale 0 - 4, 0 = relataively benign, 4 = very dangerous.
XIII. PROCEDURES FOR CHESAPEAKE BAY HALL
Should there be a fire alarm or other call for immediate evacuation of Chesapeake Bay Hall, it is essential that everyone know what action to take. The obvious statement of "leave now by the nearest stairway and door" is insufficient. Should there be a fire, the overhead door at the top of the third floor atrium stairs will close automatically and physically prohibit access to the atrium stairs. Thus 3rd floor evacuees must exit via the main stairways in the North and South wings. As the atrium stairway is not "protected," 2nd floor evacuees should use the main stairways if at all possible. Never use the elevator for emergency egress. Do not forget to assist those persons who might need help. Contrary to the occasional rumor, your life is more important than the experiment. If the alarm sounds, leave.
After exiting the building, everyone should proceed to the grass area at the rear of Chesapeake Bay Hall or in the case of foul weather, to the Auditorium of Watermen's Hall. The reason for a common gathering area is to allow each Lab Manager and each Supervisor the opportunity to assure that everyone under her or his supervision has exited the building. Should someone be missing DO NOT go back into Chesapeake Bay Hall to find the missing person; instead notify someone from the Fire Company, Security, or the Safety Office and attempt to contact the missing person by telephone. Should the missing person be located, promptly inform the Fire, Security, or Safety person with whom you had spoken.
Everyone using Chesapeake Bay Hall should become familiar with the locations of the fire alarms and fire extinguishers. If there is a fire, pull the alarm first; use the fire extinguisher only if you have had training in using it and are certain you know how. Do not put yourself in danger! Never let the fire get between you and the exit.
Never use a block or wedge to hold one of the stairwell doors open. The doors have automatic closers which should close the doors from a latched open position when the fire alarm sounds. A door that is blocked open cannot close and the integrity of the stairwell would be lost. This is especially important as the stairwells are designed to be areas of refuge for persons who cannot use the stairs. Contact the Maintenance Department to learn how to set the door closers.
XIV. PLAN REVIEW
This plan will be reviewed and revised periodically. Emergent changes that cannot be held until the annual review will be distributed as necessary.