Manufacturer Reports

Temporary Chillers Keep Fire-Damaged Hospital in Operation

February 11, 2008
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On a hot Friday morning, a fire raged at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va. When the smoke had cleared, five of the seven chiller plants that served the hospital were victims of the fire. With the temperature rising, and the heat index topping out at 105 degrees, the hospital was unable to control the heat and humidity in the building - two absolutely critical hospital needs. But administrators knew people’s lives depended on the doors staying open - and they weren’t going to let anything, not even a devastating fire, make them turn people away.

“Before the fire was out we decided that Trane would be the lead contractor,” said Joe Savala, Norfolk Sentara facilities director. “We told Trane we expected to be back on-line before Monday morning.” It was quite a challenge - but Trane accepted.

Trane reacted quickly and devised a plan. First, it was vital to restore climate control to the hospital immediately. The facility needed temporary chillers and needed them quickly. Trane’s rental depot in Charlotte, N.C., was alerted and within 12 hours the company began delivering 5,200 tons of portable cooling capacity. Within 24 hours all chillers were on-site. At the hospital, people were feeling a little better already.

“We knew we had made the right decision when the convoy of trucks and portable cooling equipment started rolling in before midnight that Friday,” said Savala. Geoff Pierce, Trane account manager, said, “Competitors told the hospital that Trane couldn’t pull it off, but our customer trusted us. It was time for Trane to deliver and we did.”

Just getting the chillers on-site was a major task, but for Trane the job was just beginning. To meet the huge labor demand associated with connecting all the units, Trane’s technicians worked around the clock. This was not just a local hospital, it was also the local children’s hospital and the area’s only trauma and burn center, so it was necessary to get everything up and running quickly. Within 48 hours, the HVAC job was complete. By connecting the chillers to the hospital’s chilled water system, the hospital was able to stay open while the electrical distribution system was rebuilt. And with the temporary chillers running, the hospital’s patients were safe, sterile environments could be maintained, and the weekend’s appointments and surgeries continued as scheduled.

For more information on Trane Rental Services, visit www.trane.com/rentalservices.

Publication date: 02/11/2008

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