Archive for Thursday, August 30, 2007

Electricity at BESIC a puzzler

August 30, 2007

Although there still aren't any solid answers regarding last week's electrical malfunction that caused the evacuation of Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, changes may be in order.

At about 1:30 p.m. last Tuesday, an electrical glitch at BESIC filled the mechanical room with smoke and Principal Tom Mundinger sent the 250 students and staff out of the building. Power -- which had partially gone out -- was turned off. Students and staff were bused to the district office.

It appeared that the problem involved two surge protectors, a problem that had occurred before. Dale Wolford of Quality Electric who installed the protectors, said they had registered 3,000 hits in the last year and a half which was excessive.

Mundinger said Dale Sample from Quality Electric and Gary Collins of the district maintenance staff looked into the situation and reported to Supt. Paul Dorathy.

"Two of the surge protectors were removed last week," said Mundinger. "The remaining surge protector is still in place and is doing fine and shows 0 hits. Dale said that was good. It's in the computer lab area.

"According to Dale and Gary, Mr. Dorathy wants them to see what the cost would be to put individual surge protectors on the outlets," he said. "He would take that information to the board of education."

Although he didn't know the cost of the system-wide surge protectors, he knows they were expensive to replace last time.

"It appears they are leaning in the direction of doing the individual surge protectors as opposed to replacing the original surge protectors that have had to be replaced at least twice," said Mundinger.

Baldwin City Administrator Jeff Dingman explained what the city's linemen did in response to the situation and what they've found.

"Our linemen were out there when they fired up the building that day after the problem," said Dingman. "We were monitoring the voltage off of our feed to the building when they were bringing it back up. Our voltage held steady and within the specified range when they were turning the electricity back on in the building.

"When they turned the cooling system back on, their second surge protector tripped, indicating a surge," he said. "Our voltage from the city's power supply was still steady. That proved to us that whatever surge that was happening was coming from within the building, likely caused by that air conditioner unit."

Dingman said the city is continuing to work with the school district on the matter.

"I've been in contact with Paul Dorathy and we'll keep working with them to try to pinpoint the problem, but so far I'm still pretty confident that it is not a problem with the power being supplied to them from our system," he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.