Frozen sprinkler systems bursting, stretching fire crews even thinner

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.--The scene of water bursting from the ceiling of a local business, is playing out again and again across central Indiana.

Frozen sprinkler systems are just one of many types of runs increasing for local fire crews.

“You could see ice in pipe separation and stuff like that and sprinkler heads were dropping on the floor and then more water, more water, drips, became spray and then a deluge,” said Michael Garrett, and employee at a local business dealing with the aftermath of a busted system.

Shocked, Garrett and others started moving as much as they could away from the water. But then they realized the pipe above the ceiling tiles in the office had bust too.

Garrett says when they moved in to the building they noticed it was freezing and made calls to get the heat turned on as quickly as possible. Once it was on, he says they cranked it up as high as possible but noticed the pipe was already falling apart in places.

So then they moved to Plan B.

“We had somebody come out that supposedly shut the water off, either didn’t get it all the way or got the wrong one,” said Garrett.

When the water started flowing, it came out as a trickle first.

Despite days of efforts to prevent the bust from happening, in twenty minutes, he says their business’ newly-rented warehouse had filled with water.

Sprinkler systems have kept Wayne Township’s Fire Department busy over the last several days.

They often help shut off the water. But once that’s done, the businesses and schools have no protection if there is a fire.

They’re battling fires too, including one right down the street from where this sprinkler burst.

“It’s been busy, but everybody expects to be more busy when it gets cold like this,” said Captain Craig Peoples with the Wayne Township Fire Department.

Besides battling fires and freezing sprinklers, fire officials in many places are also stretched thin in other ways.

The Indianapolis Fire Department tweeted how they've been on nearly 300 runs in six days for fires, residential alarms and fire code concerns like sprinklers too.

 

“You have people get sicker, not only fires, but the medical calls increase, people need help, people’s houses get froze up, they get locked out of their house, I mean, it gets a lot worse,” said Peoples.

But Captain Craig Peoples says despite people’s best efforts, with temps so low for days for a quick response may be the best some can really hope for.

“It’s rough weather,” said Peoples. “It really is.”