Atherton Emergency Generator
KPIX recently published a story about the Town's Emergency Services Generator for the Police Department, stating that the generator is "not up to code" and does not run with an automatic switchover.
Here are some facts that give a bit more clarification about the generator:
First, the Town has two generators for use during emergencies - one, a newer generator, powered by diesel fuel which is located outside the Town's Public Works Building and Emergency Operations Center; the second, a 20+ year old generator, powered by diesel is outside of the Town's Administration/Police Department building.
Second, both generators are in good operating condition. However, the generator located outside the Admin/PD building is aging, and although it was compliant when installed, has not kept pace with the changing laws on air quality and ventilation. The issue with this generator is that it sits adjacent to the window area for the Town's Dispatch Center and vents to the roof area of the police building where there are other vents that go back into the building. When this generator runs, the diesel fumes move through the vents and into the halls and offices of the police department. Those sensitive to diesel fumes can end up with headaches and nausea when exposed for long periods of time. This became a problem during the generators weekly 20 minute testing.
The Town is well aware of the issue and has been attempting to take steps to seal the ventilation areas, tune-up the generator, and get it registered with the Air Quality Management District for continuous operation when needed. In the interim, the Town has taken the generator out of its automatic weekly testing mode. Although still set to function automatically, without the weekly testing, it is unclear how well the automatic cutover will perform when electricity is dropped. The Town's dispatch 9-1-1 services are on UPS (uninterrupted power supply) backups that provide plenty of time for personnel to step out and flip the cutover switch to the generator manually should the automatic cutover not function. The UPS systems are designed for this function as the generator takes a few seconds to come online even with automatic cutover.
Given the likelihood of a new civic center, the Town is reluctant to purchase a new generator until it can determine the size, location, and connectivity required to power the entire facility. Until that time, the Town will work diligently to correct the diesel fume issue.
For technical questions please contact Public Works Superintendent Steve Tyler.