SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Area Fire Rescue was called out multiple times over the holiday weekend for broken pipes, some of which were part of fire sprinkler systems.
Kyler Bouma, the vice president and owner of Service First Fire Sprinkler says the calls for sprinkler system service started to pickup Saturday and Sunday. He says they have not had a weekend quite like this recent one for about five years.
“It’s been just way more, so what we’ve seen is before the temperatures started getting cold, we saw a few calls of things starting to kind of go awry,” Bouma said.
And it only got worse with the extreme cold.
“I guess our most common is entryways. A lot of people, when snow gets caught in the door, it’ll jar it just a little bit, and it’ll freeze that first head in an entryway and that’ll pop, and that’ll start flowing,” Bouma said.
And it usually doesn’t get shut down until the fire department arrives. Keeping an eye on entryways, maintenance rooms and anywhere there is not consistent heat is a must.
“Having that extra heater in there. Watching the temps. Temp alarms are very good to stop you from getting that freezing before it gets to a point of no return, but generally just keeping a consistent reliable heat source is going to stop you from a lot of those major problems,” he said.
Bouma says they’ve seen pipes, sprinkler heads and other components of sprinkler systems break because of freezing.
These photos show 6-inch pipes with frozen water.
This video of flowing water is in a maintenance room. Bouma says a heater had quit working, causing things to freeze.
“The water was flowing over the top of the door locks. It was trying to get out. The city guy couldn’t get it open, so we had to pry bar it open and it came flooding out. And then you can see from the video it was still flowing from, and that was a crack in the main. Now that had actually froze below all the devices,” he said.
Bouma also does not recommend portable electric heaters to be used in rooms to keep them warm as they could trip breakers and quit working.
Workers with the City of Sioux Falls Water Division have also been staying busy.
“The standby guy I think worked 36 hours the last three days. He had seven water main breaks that were ours. I think two or three fire lines that were actually private fire lines that he just had to shut off,” City of Sioux Falls water maintenance supervisor Darin McDonnel said.
McDonnel says extreme cold spells like we saw last week are going to cause problems.
“I’m just lucky I got a great group of guys. They sacrifice a lot of time away from their families to help citizens enough to make sure they have water,” McDonnel said.