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Cold Weather Could Cause Problems for Businesses with Fire Sprinklers

BRANSON, Mo.-- The extreme cold is more than just a nuisance on the roads. It can also do extreme damage to businesses with fire sprinklers.
BRANSON, Mo. --  This extreme cold is more than just a nuisance on the roads.  It can also do extreme damage to businesses with fire sprinklers.

A sprinkler burst inside a maid's closet at Hotel Branson early Monday morning.

The heat at the hotel was on, but the room where the sprinkler burst held supplies and had no heat.

Most of the damage was confined to the ceiling area, but since it was on the third floor, water also ran down to the rooms below.

"It's being vacuumed out and drained," says Hotel Branson Maintenance Supervisor Jim Brooke.  "There's heat on it and it will be fine.  This is the majority of the damage.  Normally these buildings would be completely shut down and drained, winterized, all the lines would be blown out with compressed air.  Unfortunately, we were open right up through yesterday so it was impossible to shut it down until now."

Branson Fire and Rescue is encouraging businesses closing down early to make sure they have enough insulation around fire sprinkler pipes.

"Last year wasn't as detrimental," says Branson Fire & Rescue Division Chief Randy Fogle.  "But the buildings that do close down, no one is around.  So if your fire alarm system is turned off, no one is going to know water is flowing.  In a few days, when we start getting warmer temps, if you have ice in your fire sprinkler system, it will begin to thaw and pipes will begin to expand and that's where we see the breaks, during that time period."   

Firefighters say it's also a good idea to maintain a minimal heat of 50 degrees.

"You're looking at a substantial amount of money per month to keep the heat on in the building like this," says Brooke.  "And obviously when it's closed, there's no money coming in, so it's all coming out of your pocket."

Brooke says incidents like this don't leave much choice.

"You don't keep it on until you have damage like this," he said.

Fire crews say building owners should inspect their attic areas to make sure there are no exposed pipes.  Also, it's a good idea to check with your insurance company to see what it will cover should a sprinkler break.

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