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Back-up generator battery fails at Police Department

Friday, March 30, 2012 | 12:43 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A battery failure caused smoke and fumes in the back-up generator room of the Columbia Police Department at around 8 a.m. Friday.

Crews were doing a routine check on the generator, which provides backup power for the Police Department headquarters and the Public Service Joint Communications facility, according to a news release from Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief James Weaver.

Responders discovered smoke coming from a battery when the generator didn’t start. The battery is about the size of a car battery, said Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp, who was inspecting the scene.

Six fire trucks were dispatched, and three of them were gone in an hour.

Firefighters in white protective clothing removed and rinsed down some of the radio equipment in the room and sprayed white powder on the floor to counteract the battery acid.

Brian Scull, a maintenance technician, said the acid ruined some equipment.

“The metals rot. The cardboard and the cords will be thrown away. We’ll clean and recycle the rest,” Scull said.

Sapp said it will cost about $100 to replace the battery, but there was no estimate on the rest of the damage.

Two city employees who were exposed to the smoke were receiving medical evaluations.

The cause of the battery failure is unknown. The clean-up may take most of the day.


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