Archive June 2019 XX, No. 6

Safety: 4 Common Firefighting Mistakes OR Staff Make

Lessons learned from 1,000 fire drills I've conducted in surgical facilities.

Anthony Riehl

Anthony Riehl, CFI, CESI


Anthony Riehl, CFI, CESI
FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN-SERVICES OR nurses undergo extinguisher training using a fire simulator.

I've conducted more than 1,000 fire drills at surgery centers. OR staff make the same 4 mistakes when trying to extinguish a simulated fire. These simple errors can lead to serious injury or even loss of life for your patients and staff.

My fire drills are as realistic as they come. I use a $16,000 digital fire extinguisher training system to simulate fire conditions. We can display fires at varying levels of difficulty and intensity, with authentic sound, on a 24-inch LED monitor. When you pull the pin and lock to activate the laser-driven infrared dry chemical extinguisher, it emits a realistic-sounding discharge. You have to sweep the extinguisher slowly, or else the "fire" doesn't go out.

Because of the simulator's small size, I'm able to use it for every fire drill by placing it in utility rooms, patient care areas, administrative areas and break rooms. I'll position the simulator's extinguisher near the closest real extinguisher. Once all the parts are in place, I'll call the code and the drill begins. Invariably, I'll see these 4 mistakes:

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