Incident Report: Laboratory Fire

A researcher was performing a deprotonation experiment inside a hood in his lab. A flask containing two liters of acetone in a dry ice bath at -78 degrees celsius was secured by a clamp to the hood support assembly. An injection of diphenylphosphinous chloride was started when the clamp securing the flask released allowing an unknown quantity of acetone to splash onto the base of the hood. Cleanup was in progress when the acetone fumes found a source of ignition and flashed. A small fire was contained to the hood. Slight damage occurred to electrical equipment inside the hood. The flash over occurred approximately three minutes after the spill. The fire was extinguished using a portable fire extinguisher. No one was injured.

Lessons Learned:

  • The Department of Environmental Health & Safety must be notified of every fire even if it has been extinguished.
  • Always check your entire apparatus to be sure everything is secure before commencing work.
  • Always wear the proper personal protective equipment required and take all required safety precautions for each procedure you do since you never know when a problem will occur.

Contact your Chemical Hygiene Officer or the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (831-8475) if you have questions or concerns about the safety of your procedures.