Emergency response

In all instances of emergency, serious injury or dangerous incident the most important consideration is human safety.

Serious Accidents and Personal Injury

The Director, relevant head of Division, Safety Co-ordinator and relevant senior staff should be informed immediately. An Injury or Dangerous Occurence report form must be completed as close to the timing of the event as possible. In the case of life-threatening accidents, always dial 4444 before summoning local assistance.  This will reach the Security Staff who will send for, and direct, the appropriate emergency services.

When calling on the telephone, give your name, state the precise location of the emergency and whether there are any casualties. Ask for the message to be read back to avoid confusion. If there are dangerous chemicals or radiation involved, say so.

Follow the instructions given by the Security Staff.

Evacuation Procedures

When the fire alarm is heard (an electronic continuous sound), all building occupants must immediately leave the building by the route most appropriate to their location, and proceed to the assembly point on University Place, closing any doors behind you if you are the last person to leave the area. Gas and plant supply shuts down automatically in the event of the alarm being raised. Do not delay your departure by collecting personal belongings or 'tidying up' and do not use lifts.

  • Follow the instructions of security staff and building fire officers to ensure roadways are free from obstruction to allow the emergency services access.
  • Remain at the assembly point until told by the Senior Fire Officer that you may re-enter the building. The Fire Officers are responsible for ensuring the safe evacuation of all persons present and be prepared to warn the emergency services of known special hazards/obstructions.

All workers are expected to act quietly and methodically in the spirit of the instructions given, do not rush or attempt to pass others when leaving the scene of an emergency.

Taking Care of Casualties

Where a casualty cannot be moved, personnel not involved should evacuate the room, and ensure that it remains appropriately evacuated and that machinery or equipment in the vicinity is rendered safe. They can assist first-aiders or emergency staff by contacting the relevant Head of Division or Safety Co-ordinator, assisting if possible with an injury report form.

First-aid boxes and contact details for first-aiders are located in labs on all floors. All laboratory technicians are responsible for ensuring that they are appropriately stocked. Supplies should be be requested through Helen Arthur on level 4. Make sure you  know who first-aiders are in your vicinity.

Injured or shocked persons should be kept warm and calm. They should not be moved unless threatened by immediate danger, and must not be left alone until medical help arrives.

If there is severe blood loss, or breathing difficulties call emergency extension 4444 giving details of the exact location of the casualty before requesting local help for a first-aider.

If you would like to be a named first aid volunteer, speak to the building co-ordinator to arrange for training if places are available. 

Raising the fire alarm

• If you notice smoke or flames- raise the alarm by operating the nearest Fire Alarm activation point.
• Never tackle flames alone, or without first raising the alarm. If it is safe to tackle the fire (ie. the flames are contained to something the size no bigger than a wastepaper basket and there is a clear exit route)
• Ensure that you use the correct fire extinguishers: if in doubt, close the door and raise the alarm. Alarm sounders are located beside stairs and exit points.
A bell, siren or electronic sounder will then sound continuously, and you should proceed to the nearest assembly point.
• Report as much information as you are aware of to the Senior Fire Officer on evacuation. Outwith working hours, report directly to the Security Services at the Main Gate on University Avenue.

Fire Alarm Activation points are located close to all exit points, particularly at the end of corridors or beside stairs.
Fire Extinguishers are usually wall-mounted close to activation points. Make sure you know where your nearest ones are in your own working area, but more importantly, that you know what kind of extinguisher they are, so that the wrong one is never accidentally used (with potentially catastrophic results).

Use of Fire Extinguishers

To operate the extinguishers - check that you have the appropriate extinguisher for the fire type - and remove the plastic tamper-proof tag and the metal pin located under the handle. Aim water or foam at the base of the fire (if it is not electrical, metal or chemical fire). Aim CO2 or dry powder in sweeping movements from front to back and side to side. Make sure that your back is always to the escape route.

Always raise the alarm before tackling a fire. Never tackle a fire if:-

  • you are alone,
  • it is bigger than the size of a small waste paper basket.
  • you are unsure what type of extinguisher to use

On evacuating the building, inform the fire officer in charge of the nature and location of the fire.


There are several types of extinguisher for use on small fires:-

Carbon Dioxide Extinguisher is the only extinguisher to be used in the case of fire caused by an electrical fault. It produces a high pressure stream of carbon dioxide gas which should be directed at the base of the fire. The gas depletes the fire of oxygen and also cools the source of the fire. It is regarded as the general purpose extinguisher for use in the laboratory but is ineffective against alkali metals.

Dry Powder Extinguisher releases a stream of talcum powder which is used to smother the fire. It is effective against alkali metal and metal hydride fires.

Sand Bucket: dry sand is effective in smothering small fires caused by alkali metals or metal hydrides. Use sand or CO2 gas extinguishers for chemical fires. Common practice is to have a polythene bag filled with sand beside you when there is a risk of this type of fire. When the bag is placed on the fire, the plastic melts thus releasing the sand to smother the fire.

Fire Blanket. This is effective in smothering clothing fires. It is not advisable to throw the modern fire blankets over a laboratory bench fire as this may help to spread the fire.

Hose Reels are located in corridors for the exclusive use of the Fire Service. Indeed, the use of water should be avoided if the cause of the fire is known to be an alkali metal, metal hydride, an oil bath or electrical equipment.

Important Summary

It is vital in the case of any incident, or near-incident that an Injury or Dangerous Occurence form is completed as soon as possible and given to the Safety Co-ordinator, Mr Graham Tobasnick. Serious accidents must also be reported to the Director and senior academic staff in the department as a matter of priority.

It is also vital that any remedial action recommended by the building safety co-ordinator, or deputy, is carried out as soon as possible after the incident. Failure to do so could breach our legal obligations.