RE: Fires in Histology Laboratories


In 1971, at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago, IL.  The histology lab was located on the 9th floor of the hospital near surgery.  The lab had one door - it looked like a converted surgical suite or patient room in those days.  The two techs were using an alcohol lamp for heating the forceps while performing paraffin embedding.  The lamp somehow fell and broke.  The fire ignited flamables (xylene or alcohol) on the floor and a wall of fire arose.  The two women were forced to escape through the flames and both were severely burned.   I'm sorry I don't know who those women were.  
I hope I'm recalling these events correctly, as I heard them after the lab was rebuilt and a second door was added.  Starting that lab up again was my first job out of histology school. The images of that fire are permanently etched in my brain.   From that day forward, I have always been sure I could escape from a room if a fire erupted.  No flamables should be stored near the doors. There should be two methods of egress from any room where hazardous materials are stored.    I have seen many labs where this is the case, and have taken measures to change the practice.  

Jacqueline M. O'Connor HT(ASCP)
Abbott Laboratories
Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development
Discovery Chemotheraputics
Fax 847.938.3266

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