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Laboratory Fire Safety


  • Plan work. The majority of laboratory fires have resulted from mental or procedural errors, or carelessness. 
  • Minimize materials. Have present in the immediate work area and use only the minimum quantities necessary to work in progress. Not only does this minimize fire risk, it reduces costs and waste. 
  • Observe proper housekeeping. Keep work areas uncluttered, and clean frequently. Put unneeded materials back in storage promptly. Keep aisles, doors, and access to emergency equipment unobstructed at all times. 
  • Observe proper safety practices. 
    • Store solvents properly. 
    • Observe restrictions on equipment  
    • Keep barriers in place (shields, hood doors, laboratory doors)
    • Wear proper clothing and personal protective equipment.
    • Avoid working alone.
  • Plan. Have a written emergency plan for your space and/or operation.
  • Training. Exercise the emergency plan and learn to use the emergency equipment provided.


  • Know what to do. You tend to do under stress what you have practiced or pre-planned.
  • Know where things are: The nearest fire extinguisher, fire alarm box, exit(s), telephone, emergency shower/eyewash, and first aid kit, etc.
  • Be aware that emergencies are rarely "clean" and will often involve more than one type of problem. For example, an explosion may generate medical, fire, and contamination emergencies simultaneously.
Fire Procedures
  • Notify:
    • Other occupants of the immediate space
    • Other occupants of the facility (use the fire alarm) 
    • Emergency responders (the alarm will do that for you, but a phone call makes certain)
  • Evacuate
    • The immediate area of the problem. 
    • The space within which the problem has occurred. 
    • The building within which the space is located.
  • Isolate
    • Lower hood sash, close laboratory door (s) , close corridor doors.
  • IF SAFE TO DO SO, attempt to extinguish

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