By John Anderson
The flooding at the Auburn Police Station from a frozen sprinkler pipe was the first on Friday, but it wasn’t the last. Shortly after, a pipe burst in Coco’s Tropical Ice which is closed for the winter. Over the next 48 hours, the Auburn Fire Rescue Department responded to numerous calls as businesses and residents encountered problems.
On Saturday afternoon a pipe behind a wall in the kitchen of The Lodge at Eddy Pond ruptured spewing brackish water onto cooking appliances and food supplies. The damage forced Public Health Director Darlene Coyle to close the kitchen until repairs could be made and new food could be brought in. Fortunately for the residents, the kitchen in the neighboring Woods was intact.
While still at the Lodge, additional personnel were dispatched to Auburn Plaza for sprinkler issues. A sprinkler pipe failed in Jasmine’s kitchen, and Coyle had to close the restaurant. Both facilities were expected to reopen on Sunday.
Water calls are a regular function of the fire department and sometimes require significant manpower to mitigate extensive property damage. The department also has multiple pumps that can be left unattended at a residence or business since water removal can take considerable time.
Fire Chief Stephen M. Coleman offers some suggestions during these cold snaps:
• Keep your thermostat turned up a couple of degrees. This helps keep the water flowing in forced hot water heating systems, and the house will feel more comfortable.
• To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
• If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well. NEVER use an open flame to thaw pipes.
Coleman added, “I would also encourage the community to visit our website at auburnmassfire.org for other winter safety tips, including shoveling out the fire hydrants on their properties. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter at auburnmassfire.”
The weekend was also busy for the more traditional emergencies faced by Auburn Firefighters. Medical calls, investigations, and a serious accident on the Mass Pike occupied personnel. At 8:00PM on Saturday, firefighters responded to the 82.5 mile marker for a roll over. Two patients were transported to UMASS, one with serious injuries.