Fire­fight­ers re­spond to smok­ing boiler at Ken­nard El­e­men­tary

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

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.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

A boiler at Ken­nard El­e­men­tary School mal­func­tioned on Fri­day, Nov. 25, caus­ing smoke to emit from the chim­ney on the roof.

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