Cranbrook’s Memorial Arena is closed to the public and will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time following the breakdown of the chiller used in the ice-making process Thursday morning.
Fire chief Wayne Price says the facilities manager noticed an ammonia problem when running routine checks on the system.
“Certainly, the assessment and the shutdown procedures undertaken by the arena facilities technician were textbook, to the point that when we arrived the situation was stabilized and under control.”
Actions by City staff including arena personnel and emergency services, utilizing their training and safety procedures quickly de-escalated the issue with no risk of any harm to the public.
“Arena staff were starting up the plant late Wednesday August 22 to begin the ice making process,” says Stacy Paulsen, Facility Operations Manager with the City of Cranbrook. “On Thursday morning August 23, staff discovered the ammonia levels in the chiller unit of the plant were low and the brine in the arena floor was tested. Ammonia was discovered mixed in with the brine and staff quickly shutdown the ice-making system and alerted emergency services. I am extremely proud how well our staff handled this event, and I really want to thank our Fire & Emergency Services who ensured everyone’s safety through this entire process.”
Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services, WorkSafeBC, Technical Safety BC and Cimco – the City’s refrigeration contractor all responded. Fire & Emergency Services quickly secured the area ensuring all staff were accounted for and out of the building. There was no release of ammonia into the atmosphere and there was never any harm or threat of harm to the public or nearby residences and businesses. All alarms and safety devices in place responded as they should have, which demonstrates the City’s safety management system is working.
“I want to acknowledge the efforts undertaken by City staff to quickly identify the issue and safely shut down the system in the Memorial Arena,” says Wayne Price, Director of Cranbrook Fire & Emergency Services. “Staff relied on their training and worked through their procedures properly. This situation was handled exactly the way it should have been. The efforts of staff were exceptional.”
According to information provided to the City by Technical Safety BC, there is no way to tell what exactly happened with the chiller unit. These types of equipment failures can and do happen, regardless of the age of the equipment. The chiller unit at the Memorial Arena was scheduled to be replaced in 2019. City staff is now working to source a new chiller in order to bring the ice-making plant back online.
Safety of the public, arena user groups, and staff is top priority for the City of Cranbrook. With the arena now secure, operations have shifted into the repair of the Memorial Arena ice plant. The chiller system has been completely drained of ammonia and it has been safely removed from the site and is being transported for proper disposal.
Price says the system also feeds the nearby Kinsmen Arena.
He adds he’s been told the situation is similar to what happened at Fernie Memorial Arena last year.
– Wayne Price – Director, Fire & Emergency Services
– From the City of Cranbrook