Covenant basement evacuated temporarily for hazmat - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Covenant basement evacuated temporarily for hazmat

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Lubbock firefighters were called to Covenant Medical Center for a hazmat situation just before 4:50 a.m. Friday.  Shortly after the first firefighters arrived, the hazmat team was then called. 

There was one report of an injury, a security guard who had trouble breathing.

Michael Lewis, Lubbock Fire Department Division Chief, said, "They've had one person taken to the E. R. for some inhalation, and have him checked out.  We're not positive it's related to this but it could be."

KCBD NewsChannel 11 was able to confirm a discharge of halon in the computer room of the Covenant basement and the basement was evacuated for a time.  Halon is a fire suppression substance.  Officials at the scene were not sure why the halon was discharged, which was followed by an automated fire alarm. 

People were allowed back into the basement by about 5:45. Covenant Medical Center released the following statement later that morning:

Early this morning a Code Red was called at Covenant Medical Center, which resulted in the temporary evacuation of approximately 20 employees from the basement.  A chemical compound, halon, was discharged in a small data center in the basement that contained a minimal amount of IT equipment, and triggered the fire alarm system. Five CHS employees who investigated the Code Red were exposed to halon, which is not a hazardous substance. However, as a precaution, all five employees were seen in the Emergency Department and we expect them to be released this morning. 

As reported in the local media, the Lubbock Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Team was called out to Covenant in response to the incident. Because halon is not a hazardous substance, the Haz-Mat team did not enter the building.

Halon is a chemical compound used in fire suppression systems. Halon prevents oxygen from reacting with a fuel source to create a fire and can quickly extinguish a fire. It is considered a "clean agent" as defined by the National Fire Protection Agency, meaning it is non-conductive, non-volatile, and leaves no residue once the fire has been suppressed. It is commonly used in areas with electrical equipment, such as a data center.

At this time, we do not know what caused the halon discharge.  Troy Pratt and the IT team have investigated the data center equipment and found all computers to be in working order. The Fire Marshall is investigating the area this morning, so we may have an answer to the cause later today.

Thanks to Lubbock Fire Department, CHS Security, Maintenance, Emergency Department staff, IT, House Supervisor, and other team members who responded to the Code Red quickly and appropriately.

Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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