Chimney collapse results in hospital evacuation

Emergency Management Alert, March 31, 2009

The noise was so loud when part of a 40-foot chimney collapsed March 22 at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, NY, that officials initially thought a boiler at the hospital had exploded.

But the large bang that shook the building was actually the chimney breaking apart. The structural damage occurred at the base of the chimney, which serves as the exhaust system for the hospital’s two boilers, a hospital spokesman told The boilers were not damaged, but when the chimney broke apart debris stuck a control panel. A safety mechanism automatically shut the boilers down, cutting off the building’s heat and hot water for two days.

Hospital staff and fire crews moved all 35 patients out of the facility and they were transported to other area hospitals. The hospital began admitting patients again March 24, after a new chimney was installed, reported WCAX-TV. The cause of the chimney collapse is under investigation.

No one was hurt in the collapse. At a news conference following the incident, Hospital President and CEO Chandler Ralph praised the reaction of hospital staff and the effectiveness of the facility’s incident command system.

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