HYANNIS – Hyannis Firefighters responded to a potentially lethal situation early this morning at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center.
At about 3:15 a.m., Hyannis Firefighters were notified of a sounding alarm indicating an ammonia leak inside of the youth center that houses two indoor skating rinks. These particular rinks are cooled with an ammonia system that is monitored by alarms due to the lethal nature of the anhydrous ammonia should it ever escape and leak into its surroundings as a caustic gas.
Ammonia cooled rinks have become controversial in some circles due to the potential for sudden exposure, especially when built-in safeguards are not properly maintained or ignored due to complacency, etc… Ammonia cooled rinks, however, have become more popular in recent years because they are believed to be a “greener” alternative to other older methods of cooling skating rink ice surfaces.
In 2017, however, tragedy struck when 3 individuals working inside of a Canadian rink complex were killed after a sudden system failure. (See brief information video below).
This morning, firefighters, along with a rink caretaker, reportedly found a small leak in the youth center’s ammonia cooling system. The first firefighter at the scene reported a relatively high reading of 99 ppm (parts per million). Note that 300 ppm is considered immediately dangerous to life and health. Also note, that levels caused by ammonia leaks have been known to fluctuate suddenly and rapidly…
As you will hear in the following HN Video, which contains some of the firefighters’ radio transmissions from this morning’s call, first responders entered the area of the leak, each wearing a breathing apparatus, and were able to eventually ventilated and repair the suspected leak.
Hyannis Firefighters have reportedly responded to the rink in the past for false alarms, but this morning’s leak and positive readings created concern…
… especially when one looks into the dangers, although rare… and especially in light of the 2017 tragedy in the City of Fernie, British Columbia, Canada.
See the following videos. The first HN Video shows this morning’s situation. The second video is an animated reenactment of the Fernie tragedy, put together by WorkSafeBC.
MUST WATCH SECOND VIDEO: How potentially dangerous are ammonia rink refrigeration systems? Watch this video about the 2017 ammonia leak tragedy that killed 3 workers at the Fernie Memorial Arena in the City of Fernie, British Columbia, Canada.
Note, the animation of the incident you are about to watch has several similarities to this morning’s alarm at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center…