Firefighters respond to smoking boiler at Kennard Elementary
CENTREVILLE — Someone driving by Kennard Elementary School on the morning of Friday, Nov. 25, saw smoke coming from the school’s roof.
It turned out that a malfunctioning boiler in the school was the culprit, not a fire, said Lt. Tyler Knapp of the Goodwill Fire Company, which responded to the school on Little Kidwell Avenue in Centreville.
Queen Anne’s County Public Schools has since fixed the boiler, and Kennard opened on time on Monday, Nov. 28. The school never had to close because of the problem.
“The boiler at KES is up and running and had an air intake malfunction which caused the smoke. The school [opened] on time as scheduled for students and staff,” said Gregory Pilewski, interim superintendent.
The call came in about 8:30 a.m. from a passerby who called 911, said Knapp, who described the call as “good intent call.”
Besides Goodwill, many other fire companies responded to the scene, including from the towns of Church Hill, Queenstown, and Grasonville. Knapp said that so many fire companies responding to a fire call is normal.
After fire crews arrived on the scene, the boiler was turned off, he said. There was no damage to the school nor any injuries. The school was already closed since it was the day after Thanksgiving. Knapp said there was nobody inside at the time.
Sid Pinder, director of operations for the school district, explained the problem with the boiler at Kennard Elementary. In an email, he said a malfunctioning part is to blame for the smoke.
“The boiler heats up water that is then pumped throughout the the school to various air-handlers or roof top units which then provide warm air to all the areas. Each school has two boilers. So, if one boiler goes down, the other one can take over,” Pinder said.
“Basically, when the boiler comes on, it goes into highfire and the amount of heating oil that is pumped to the burner increases. While this is occurring, there is a small metal arm that slides and opens up the air in-take allowing more air to funnel into the burner. The metal arm on the modulator broke, which did not allow enough air into the burner which is what caused the dark black smoke to come out of the chimney,” Pinder said.
A school district maintenance foreman repaired the boiler. It costs about $40 for the metal arm, Pinder said.
The boilers are inspected by the state each year and there is no need to replace them at Kennard; “the part that broke is something that can typically happen and is a pretty minor issue.”
Cold weather isn’t too blame for the malfunction and the pipes didn’t freeze, he said.
The fire companies were at the school for 30 minutes.
A boiler at Kennard Elementary School malfunctioned on Friday, Nov. 25, causing smoke to emit from the chimney on the roof.