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Fire continues to be one of the greatest risks we face. There were nearly 4,000 fire-related deaths in the United States in 2003 alone; more people die in fires every year than from all natural disasters combined.

The safety of staff and visitors to Fred Hutch is of paramount importance to everyone. Safety has a direct impact on both the quality and the value of Fred Hutch. Each person and every department is expected to perform work in a safe manner and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Fred Hutch's Fire and Life Safety Program contains policies and procedures that, when implemented and maintained, prevent loss of life, injury, and property damage, satisfy the fire code and our legal obligations, and help satisfy insurance requirements regarding fire and other related emergencies.

6.1 Emergency Warden Program

Fred Hutch's Emergency Warden Program plays a vital role in both the Fire and Life Safety and the Emergency Management Programs. The concept of operations provides for each of Fred Hutch's buildings to be assigned a designated building captain; each floor is assigned a floor emergency warden; and on every floor department emergency wardens are assigned. These assigned staff members perform functions in accordance with the Building Emergency Plan.

Figure I.1: Typical Building Emergency Warden Organization

Emergency organization chart
Figure I.1: Typical Building Emergency Warden Organization

6.4 General Fire Evacuation Procedures

It is important for your safety to treat every alarm activation as an actual emergency until it is fully investigated and reported to be otherwise.

If a fire alarm is activated in your building:

Illustration of man proceeding to an exit

1. Proceed to the closest available exit. Exit the building as soon as possible. Do not delay. Do not wait for someone to tell you to leave.

Illustration of crossed-out elevator doors

2. Do not use elevators. They will not be available in case of a fire emergency.

Illustration of man covering his mouth and nose with a wet cloth

3. If necessary, cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth.
crawl low in smoke

Illustration of person crawling on floor underneat cloud of smoke

4. If you encounter smoke, crawl. Stay low.

Illustration of hand with back of hand facing an exit door

5. Use the back of your hand to feel the lower, middle, and upper portions of closed doors for heat. If the door is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly.

Illustration of crossed-out door with flames and smoke coming out of it

6. Do not open the door if it is hot. Look for another way out.

Illustration of man moving in the direction of a point on a map

7. Proceed to your building's primary assembly area.

6.5 Building Construction and Fire Protection Features

Each building's emergency plan includes specific building construction details, fire protection features, and information on the proper sequence of operations. The following is general information regarding building construction that applies to all Center buildings. Hutchinson Center buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained in accordance with the Seattle Building Code (SBC) and Seattle Fire Code (SFC). Typical construction materials used in the Center's newer buildings are type-1 fire resistant with fire resistive interior finishes.

All building fire protection and life safety components are inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with the SFC by Facilities Engineering. Sometimes a life safety system (e.g., a fire alarm, a smoke detector or the communication system) is not 100% functional. If it breaks down unexpectedly, it is considered an emergency impairment. If it is impaired due to a planned, temporary shutdown necessary for inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, or modification, it is considered a pre-planned impairment. All impairments should be prepared for and handled in accordance with the Impairment of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems policy, which can be found on the Hutchinson Center website.

6.6 Fire Protection System Components

6.6.1 Fully Automatic Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems

Fully automatic fire protection sprinkler systems are provided throughout Hutchinson Center buildings as required by the SBC and SFC. Automatic fire sprinklers have been in use in the U.S. since 1874. Fire sprinklers are widely recognized as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages, before they can cause severe injury to people and damage to property. Sprinkler systems for fire protection consist of overhead pipes fitted with sprinkler heads. Each head is held closed independently by heat-sensitive seals. These seals prevent water flow until a designated temperature is exceeded by the individual sprinkler heads. When heat activates a sprinkler head, water is discharged. A water flow alarm sends a signal to the fire alarm control panel that activates the local evacuation alarm and notifies the fire department.

6.6.2 Automatic Smoke Detection Systems

Automatic smoke detection systems are provided throughout the Center's buildings as required by the SBC and SFC. Detectors consist of photoelectric and ionization type detectors that are connected to a building's fire alarm system. Smoke detectors provide the earliest possible detection of fire. When smoke is detected, the detector sends a signal to the fire alarm control panel that activates the local evacuation alarm and notifies the fire department. Smoke detectors are also used to close fire doors, recall building elevator systems, and secure heat, ventilation, and air condition systems.

6.6.3 Manual Fire Alarm Pull Stations

Manual fire alarm pull stations are provided throughout the Center's buildings as required by the SBC and SFC. Manual fire alarm pull stations are provided so that staff can manually report a fire emergency and initiate evacuation. Manual fire alarm pull stations are located along the means of egress (i.e., exit routes), at the entrance to exit stairways, and at building exits. When a manual fire alarm pull station is activated by a staff member, the device sends a signal to the fire alarm control panel that activates the local evacuation alarm and notifies the fire department.

6.6.4 Portable Fire Extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers are provided throughout the Center's buildings as required by the SBC and SFC. Five-pound, dry chemical fire extinguishers are generally located in the corridors in extinguisher cabinets. They are rated for fighting fires involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids, and fires on energized electrical equipment. The extinguishers have a discharge range of 12-18 feet and discharge within approximately 15 seconds.

To operate a portable fire extinguisher, remember the P-A-S-S acronym and follow these steps:

  1. Pull the safety pin;
  2. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire;
  3. Squeeze the handle; and
  4. Sweep the nozzle side to side.

Portable fire extinguishers should only be operated if:

  1. The building is being evacuated;
  2. The fire department is being called;
  3. The fire is small and contained;
  4. Your exit is clear;
  5. You are trained and confident in the use of portable fire extinguishers; and
  6. You can stay low to avoid the smoke and heat.

Exercise good risk management. Remember:

Nothing in the building, except people, is worth risking your life for.

6.7 Fire Prevention Issues Common to the Center

Fire safety is everyone's job. Staff should watch for the following conditions that could start a fire, contribute to the spread of the fire, or impede egress (ability to exit a building) or fire-fighting ingress (ability to enter a building):

  1. Maintain means of egress. In every occupied building or structure, means of egress from all parts of the building must be maintained free and unobstructed. Means of egress must be accessible to the extent necessary to ensure reasonable safety for occupants who have impaired mobility. Exit access corridors must be maintained in accordance with the Center's Safe Use and Maintenance of Exit Access Corridors policy.
  2. Keep fire doors closed or properly held open. Fire doors must be kept closed at all times unless held open with an approved magnetic hold-open device. Fire doors must not be blocked from closing or secured open in any manner (no doors stops, wire, lead bricks, equipment, etc.).
  3. Don't block access to safety devices. Access to safety devices (e.g., emergency eye-wash stations, emergency showers, manual fire alarm pull stations, electrical panels, fire extinguishers) must not be blocked.
  4. Don't block sprinkler heads. Equipment and materials cannot be stacked to within 18" of sprinkler heads. This prevents the sprinkler head from discharging effectively in the event of a fire.
  5. Store flammable and combustible liquids properly. Storage of flammable and combustible liquids must be regulated to reduce and protect the authorized quantity from becoming involved in a fire. Flammable liquids with flashpoints below 100° F. must be stored in an approved flammable liquid cabinet, and/or approved safety cans.
  6. Avoid poor housekeeping. Combustible paper and cardboard waste must be disposed of daily. Accumulations of combustible materials add to the building's fire load and can overcome fixed fire protection systems.
  7. Use electrical extension cords properly. Extension cords may not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. If additional outlets are needed, they must be installed in accordance with the Seattle Electrical Code. Discontinue the practice of affixing extension cords through walls, ceilings, floors, under doors or floor coverings, around nails, or around pipes or other objects, or subjecting the extension cord to environmental damage.

Hazardous operations such as hot work must be authorized and conducted in accordance with the Hot Work Fire Safety policy. Hot work is defined as work involving any open-flame or arc-producing device or any activity involving welding, torch cutting, or burning.