Steam valve problem causes alarm at Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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No one was hurt when a valve let too much steam into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s air system around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Terry Campbell, the hospital’s director of support services, said a problem with a valve in an air-handling unit that supplies the hospital’s main lobby allowed excess humidity to escape, which triggered a fire alarm and a code red.

There was never any risk to patients and nothing would have been visible to anyone in the hospital, Campbell said.

“The humidity was essentially inside the unit and luckily the sensor in the unit worked as was designed and triggered the alarm.”

Firefighters responded to the alarm but weren’t needed and part of the hospital was shut down so no one could enter the building until the problem was fixed, which took about 35 or 40 minutes.

The malfunctioning equipment was in a maintenance area known as the penthouse at the top of ambulatory care section of the hospital.

Steam is used to balance humidity in the building and is released whenever there is a need to make it more humid, but in this case the malfunctioning valve opened farther than it was supposed to.

Campbell said there haven’t been similar problems with the air-handling unit in the past.

Although no one was at risk, the malfunction happened on a busy day for the hospital as many patients were visiting the orpthopedic clinic starting at 7 a.m., Campbell said.

“We do certainly apologize for any inconvenience to the public and appreciate their understanding.”

Campbell said the necessary equipment did its job in detecting a problem and the hospital was happy to see how the situation was handled with the code red.

“Everything worked well and we’re happy with that.”

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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