Fires sprinkler floods Kaweah Health Medical Center Emergency Department

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
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A portion of Kaweah Health Medical Center had to be shut down and some patients evacuated after an area of the hospital was flooded on Sunday evening.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Water started flooding the emergency room of the Kaweah Health Medical Center in Visalia Sunday night, flooding two zones in the department.

It happened around 6:18 pm and hospital staff took quick action.

"Our emergency team and staff, providers and many others were very quick to action and no services were interrupted, just temporarily while we moved spaces," said Emma Mozier, Registered Nurse and Director of Medical/Surgical.

The flood was controlled in about three hours, but the impact will be felt for days. There are six fire sprinkler zones within the Emergency Department. Thankfully only one zone was tripped, but the water did flood into a second zone of the ER.

"All patients were evacuated from that area almost instantly along with equipment and other supplies," Mozier said.

Both zones will remain unoccupied while the hospital cleans up the damage. Fans and dehumidifiers were seen arriving at the hospital to help dry out the area.

"We are working internally with our maintenance team, clinical engineering and infection prevention to open up some walls to air out and evaluate when we can reoccupy those two locations," Mozier said.

When asked what caused the fire sprinkler to go off, the hospital didn't have an exact answer, but they were able to rule out a few possibilities.

There was no fire, a fire alarm couldn't trip the sprinklers, and they weren't able to find any sprinkler heads that broke off.

The hospital now has 17 beds unavailable because they were soaked. A setback for a hospital that was already over capacity, but staff say it won't stop them from providing care to those in need.

"We will still prioritize our patients and those in our communities regardless of capacity," Mozier said.