EMERGENCY POWER

Released May 24, 2000

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Electrical power is a universally used utility that we do not usually think about until it becomes unavailable.  To provide for the needs of government in the county, especially safety organizations, when the utility is no longer available, emergency power motor-generator sets have been installed in almost every facility.  Power from these supplies must replace the utility almost instantly and automatically.  They should be capable of reliable operation for the duration of any emergency with a minimum of servicing and attention.

The Grand Jury conducted a survey of power sources throughout the county.  These sources ranged from a two-kilowatt portable unit (with lease tag still on it), to 300-kilowatt permanent installations that were installed in major facilities.  The age and condition of these units varied as did the age and condition of the buildings they were in.  There has been no guideline for the design of these power sources, nor how they are used.  The recognized building codes or safety standards only concern the emergency power installations in hospitals.  The codes generally assign the design of emergency power systems to the discretion of the user.  This resulted in the variations we have found in the size of the emergency power generators, (and the extreme variations), from installation to installation, and in the amount of lights and power receptacles connected to emergency power.  In almost every instance, the buildings were inadequately wired to provide the connection of electrical loads of which the emergency sources are capable.  A margin of safety in sizing of the power system is one thing, but to provide inadequate lighting and power-using appliances when they are most needed is something that should be corrected.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATions

 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

 

Grand Jury Finding 1:  Diesel generators are operating at low level of capacity.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 1:  Agrees. 

Board of Supervisors (BOS) Response to Finding 1:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 1:  The diesel generators should have more circuits in their load.  Load bank testing should be scheduled once a year.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 1:  Recommendation has been implemented in part.  The County of Santa Barbara General Services Department has a maintenance contract to test generators under a normal load. 

The Sheriff’s Department should not arbitrarily load up a generator with insignificant power uses, when these might be needed later for expansion purposes.

BOS Response to Recommendation 1:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (has been implemented in part).

Grand Jury Finding 2:  Fuel capacity on hand, except for natural gas, is not substantial enough for a major emergency.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 2:  Disagrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 2:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Disagree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 2:  In future installations or replacements, the fuel of choice should be propane, with at least three days supply on hand.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 2:  This recommendation has been implemented.  The fuel capacity of most of our generators is sufficient for most outages.  If the County were to experience a major emergency, only those buildings designated as “Essential Services Buildings” would need to have the capacity necessary to remain in operation or have the ability to obtain fuel.  The County of Santa Barbara has a diesel fuel truck to service those diesel generators.  General Services should look at alternative sources of fuel in future installations.

BOS Response to Recommendation 2:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 3:  Some of the bigger generators have kilo-ammeters which are almost impossible to read because the load is so small.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 3:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 3:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 3:  Install instrumentation to reflect the load imposed by the facility.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 3:  This recommendation has been implemented through the contract for maintenance and testing.  Hand held devices will provide those readings as necessary.

BOS Response to Recommendation 3:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as the BOS response (has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 4:  The generator located at the Miller Street Superior Court facility is on a concrete pad surrounded by water.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 4:  Agrees with this finding.

 

BOS Response to Finding 4:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 4:  A proper drain should be installed to alleviate this situation.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 4:  This recommendation will not be implemented as it is not warranted.  The Miller Street generator is sitting on a concrete spill containment slab and does have a drain plug.  Instructions have been given to affected employees on the proper operation of the drain plug.

BOS Response to Recommendation 4:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (will not be implemented as it is not warranted).

Grand Jury Finding 5:  Sheriff’s facility generators are routinely tested without shutdown of utility power.  The lack of identification on switches and receptacles prevents knowledge of what is or is not on generator power.  Backup power readiness is compromised.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 5:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 5:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 5:  Conduct all testing of emergency power systems by full shutdown of utility power.  If there are problems caused by this action, fix them until emergency readiness is proven.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 5:  This recommendation has been implemented by the General Services Department through their maintenance and service contract.

The Sheriff’s Department agrees that generators should be tested under a normal load without utility power on.  A schedule should be drafted and all personnel should treat this as a common event.  Problems found in testing the generators in this manner will be addressed and corrected.  However, the Department is not willing to compromise electrical devices, such as computers, for testing purposes, thus scheduling the tests is a must.

BOS Response to Recommendation 5:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 6:  The Grand Jury was told that a few surge protectors on computers had failed due to "dirty" power from an emergency generator.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 6:  Disagrees in part with this finding. 

On a few occasions, surge protectors have been damaged as emergency power was switched on.  These surge protectors operated as designed and protected the connected equipment.  They could have done the same while operating on utility power, with either a drop in voltage or voltage spikes.  They were replaced under maintenance agreement without charge.

BOS Response to Finding 6:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Disagree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 6:  Provide UPS backup to the computers and connect all necessary equipment to receptacles that are connected to emergency power.  Test the generator and repair as required.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 6:  This recommendation will not be implemented as it is not warranted.  Providing UPS devices for all computers would be a waste of funds.  Necessary computer servers and essential workstations have been provided with UPS and emergency power.  Most computer workstations operated at Sheriff’s facilities do not need emergency power.

BOS Response to Recommendation 6:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as the BOS response (will not be implemented as it is not warranted).

Grand Jury Finding 7:  Electrical receptacles, switches and light fixtures are not identified as being on the emergency system.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 7:  Agrees in part with this finding and disagrees in part with this finding.

At the time that most Sheriff’s facilities were built, color coded switches and outlets were installed where emergency power existed.  Since that time, remodels and replacements have occurred within the facilities and some switches and outlets did not maintain a distinctive color coding. The 9-1-1 Emergency Communications facility has marked switches and receptacles.

BOS Response to Finding 7:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (agrees in part with this finding and disagrees in part with this finding).

Grand Jury Recommendation 7:  Properly identify all components of the emergency power backup system.

Sheriff’s Response to Recommendation 7:  This recommendation has been implemented in part.  The Main Jail facility and most custody facilities have finished checking and marking switches and receptacles.  All remaining Sheriff’s facilities will be surveyed where applicable and switches and receptacles working under emergency power will be distinctively marked. 

BOS Response to Recommendation 7:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (has been implemented in part, and the remaining emergency switches and receptacles will be distinctively marked in 2000-01).

Grand Jury Finding 8:  Sheriff’s facilities in the North County have emergency power generators tested without a load applied.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 8:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 8:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 8:  Revise testing to not only test the emergency power under load, but to also initiate generator startup by the shutdown of utility power.  Correct the cause of problems so that the emergency power is reliable and dependable.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 8:  This recommendation corresponds to recommendations 1 & 6 as reported above.  These generators should be tested under normal load and with the utility power off.

BOS Response to Recommendation 8:  The recommendation has been implemented.

Grand Jury Finding 9:  Roof access is hazardous on the Sheriff's Administration building.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 9:  Disagrees with this finding. 

In the current configuration, a handrail to the roof access ends at the top of the opening to the roof.  A flat door covers the opening to the roof and no handrail exists on the roof adjacent to the door opening.

BOS Response to Finding 9:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Disagree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 9:  A permanent steel hand railing on the roof needs to be installed.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 9:  This recommendation will not be implemented as it is not warranted.

Placement of a handrail on the roof to assist in roof access may not be practical or prudent, although such a handrail might be nice if a person were standing on the top step of the ladder, looking at the roof, such a handrail would impede anyone carrying larger objects to the roof, such as a toolbox or replacement parts for air conditioning or the generator.

BOS Response to Recommendation 9:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as the BOS response (will not be implemented as it is not warranted).

Grand Jury Finding 10:  The generator at La Morada and the Santa Barbara Morgue/Coroner's Office is a temporary 100 kilowatt diesel powered generator operated by two manual transfer switches.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Finding 10:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 10:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 10:  A 25 kilowatt propane powered generator with three days of fuel should be installed and operated by an automatic transfer switch.

Sheriff’s Department Response to Recommendation 10:  This recommendation will not be implemented at this time.  This temporary generator should be replaced by a properly sized generator installed in coordination with the General Services Department.  Neither Department has budgeted money to change out the current generator.

BOS Response to Recommendation 10:  The Board adopted the Sheriff Department’s response as its response (will not be implemented at this time) with the additional following comment:  Because the La Morada facility is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the fact that two manual transfer switches, rather than an automatic switch, are used to start the generator, does not present a critical problem.  Moreover, the generator is tested once a week and currently has 3 days’ worth of fuel on hand.

Santa Barbara County Probation Department Facilities

Grand Jury Finding 11:  A manual switch for the mess hall generator is the only transferring mechanism available to start the generator.

Probation Department Response to Finding 11:   I agree with this finding. The manual switch must be activated in order to start the generator in a power outage.

BOS Response to Finding 11:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 11:  Replace the manual transfer switch with an automatic transfer switch to make a safe transition from utility power to emergency power.  This would eliminate the need to have qualified personnel to do the switching.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 11:  This recommendation has been implemented. The automatic transfer switch has been installed and tested.  It is fully operational.

BOS Response to Recommendation 11:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 12:  Emergency power lighting is needed in the dining room, the food storage room, and most of the kitchen.

Probation Department Response 12:  I agree with this finding.  Additional lighting would be helpful during a power outage in the dining room, food storage and kitchen.  Currently there is battery operated emergency lighting but it is designed for very short duration and would not be useful in an extended outage.

BOS Response to Finding 12:  Disagree.  Emergency power lighting is not needed in the dining room, food storage room and most of the kitchen.  It would be no different than losing lighting in your own home; it is not life threatening but it could be inconvenient.  It should be noted that there are many competing priorities for the limited funding, and there is no code that requires emergency power lighting in the dining room, food storage room and most of the kitchen.  However, because we understand the concerns, and since the cost is minimal, the County will implement the corresponding recommendation.

Grand Jury Recommendation 12:  Emergency lighting should be installed in the food storage room, dining room, and kitchen.  These would be a minimum to comply with the policy of being able to keep the facility on emergency power for three days.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 12:  This recommendation will be implemented.  General Services is currently in the process of determining the cost of implementation and securing a bid from a contractor.

BOS Response to Recommendation 12:  The recommendation will be implemented by December 2000 using County General Funds.  Since there is no additional County General Funds to pay for this, some other facility work will now be delayed until 2001-02. 

Grand Jury Finding 13:  The Grand Jury found that the administration building needs more lighting and receptacles on the emergency power system in order to remain functional during emergencies.

Probation Department Response to Finding 13:  I agree with this finding.  Additional lighting and power outlets in the Administrative Building would be helpful.  Currently there is battery operated emergency lighting but it is designed for very limited duration and would not be useful in an extended outage.

BOS Response to Finding 13:  Disagree.  More lighting and receptacles on the emergency power system in the administration building are not needed.  It would be no different than losing lighting in your own home; it is not life threatening but could be inconvenient.  It should be noted that there are many competing priorities for the limited funding and there is no code that requires more lighting and receptacles on the emergency power system.  However, because we understand the concerns, and since the cost is minimal, the County will implement the corresponding recommendation.

Grand Jury Recommendation 13:  The mess hall generator power load should be analyzed to calculate what additional load can be put on it.  If analysis supports it, put the entire building on emergency power.  If this cannot be accomplished, the building should have an independent generator.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 13:  This recommendation will be implemented.  The generator in the kitchen area should be analyzed to determine load capacity and if capable, additional utilization of this power can be implemented, including the Administration Building. 

BOS Response to Recommendation 13:  The recommendation will be implemented by December 2000 using County General Funds.  Since there is no additional County General Funds to pay for this, some other facility work will now be delayed until
2001-02.

 

 

Grand Jury Finding 14:  The upper barracks has inadequate emergency power serving it.

Probation Department Response to Finding 14:  Agree with this finding.  The Tri-Counties Boot Camp Dormitory has limited emergency lighting tied to the generator.

BOS Response to Finding 14:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 14:  Install additional circuits to the upper barracks (in the same conduit already in use) or install an eight kilowatt generator similar to that in use at the lower barracks.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 14:  This recommendation will be implemented.  General  Services is currently in the process of determining the cost of implementation and securing a bid from a Contractor.

BOS Response to Recommendation 14:  The recommendation will be implemented by December 2000 using County General Funds (install additional circuits).

Grand Jury Finding 15:  The gymnasium building does not have emergency power connected to it.

Probation Department Response to Finding 15:  Agree with this finding.  The gymnasium and shop area have no emergency power.  The building does have battery operated lighting but it is designed for very limited duration and would not be useful in an extended outage.

BOS Response to Finding 15:  The Board adopted the Probation Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 15:  Evaluate using power from the mess hall generator to energize the gymnasium building.

Probation Department Response to Recommendation 15:  This recommendation will be analyzed further . As indicated in a previous response, the power capacity of the kitchen generator will be analyzed.  In addition, General Services will provide a cost estimate and a timetable for the implementation of the recommendation should sufficient power be available.

BOS Response to Recommendation 15:  The recommendation will not be implemented because it is not warranted.  The General Services department met with the Probation department and decided it was not needed because:

The gymnasium building has natural light during the day, and 

The gymnasium building has 2 hours of emergency exit lighting, and 

The Probation department, user of the facility, did not feel it was necessary.

 

 

Santa Maria Fire Department (S.M.F.D.) Facility

Grand Jury Finding 16:  The manual transfer switch at Fire Station No. 2 is an unnecessary complication to the emergency system.

S.M.F.D. and the Santa Maria City Council’s Response to Finding 16:  We agree with this finding.

Grand Jury Recommendation 16:  Eliminate the manual transfer switch.  Install an additional emergency panel and size the total emergency circuitry appropriately.

S.M.F.D. and the Santa Maria City Council’s Response to Recommendation 16:  This recommendation will be addressed during the remodel of Fire Station No. 2 scheduled for later this fiscal year.

Santa Maria Police Department (S.M.P.D.) Facility

Grand Jury Finding 17:  The refrigerator in the Property/Evidence room and the security cameras in the Police Headquarters building are not on the emergency power system.

S.M.P.D. and the Santa Maria City Council’s Response to Finding 17:  We agree with the finding.

Grand Jury Recommendation 17:  Connect the refrigerator and security cameras on receptacles that are energized by the emergency power.

S.M.P.D. and the Santa Maria City Council’s Response to Recommendation  17:  We agree with a portion of this recommendation (connecting the refrigerator) has been implemented.  Connecting the security cameras to receptacles that are energized by the emergency power is scheduled to be completed within the next sixty days.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department (S.B.C.F.D.) Facilities

Grand Jury Finding 18:  Most Fire Station personnel were not familiar with the operation of the generator systems.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 18:  The Fire Department partially disagrees with this finding.

The BOS Response to Finding 18:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (partially disagrees; although some fire station personnel were not familiar, most were).

The Grand Jury Recommendation 18:  Train all personnel in the operation of the generators and all emergency systems.  Have training sessions on a regular basis.  Have a procedure manual available at all stations so personnel would be able to troubleshoot problems when they occur.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 18:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Most regularly assigned members at a given fire station know how to operate the generators.  Some members which were back-filling were not familiar at the time of inspection.  All personnel assigned to stations have received instructions on operating generators for their assigned stations.  Proficiency demonstrations were conducted at each station, operating instructions have been written and placed at the station generator site.  Each week at stations the generators are exercised by station personnel to maintain their level of proficiency and to ensure generator reliability.

BOS Response to Recommendation 18:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 19:  Electrical panels were not labeled.  Electrical receptacles, switches and light fixtures were not identified as being on the emergency system.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 19:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 19:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 19:  Panels should be identified per National Electrical Code.  Other devices should be identified so personnel would be able to determine what is on the emergency system and what is not.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 19:  This recommendation has been initiated.  Work orders and directives have been initiated to remedy the finding.

BOS Response to Recommendation 19:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been initiated, and will be completely implemented during 2000-01).

Grand Jury Finding 20:  The newly constructed dormitory was built without emergency lighting.

The S.B.C.F.D.  Response to Finding 20:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 20:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 20:  Connect the new dormitory to the emergency system.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 20:  This recommendation has been initiated.  Work orders have been submitted to remedy the finding.  In the meantime, we will provide battery back up emergency lighting.

BOS Response to Recommendation 20:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as the BOS response (recommendation has been initiated and will be completed implemented during 2000-01).

Grand Jury Finding 21:  Personnel have been doing remodeling without building permits, and performing general maintenance work when they are unqualified.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 21:  Partially disagrees with this finding.

 

BOS Response to Finding 21:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Disagree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 21:  When remodeling is required, go through the proper channels and secure building permits.  When maintenance is required, fill out a work order so Facilities Services can process it.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 21:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Personnel from the department selected to do any work on our facilities first and foremost are qualified to do the work.  A large number of our personnel came to us from the trades industry and it is they who are assigned the work.  Additionally, great savings to the taxpayer is derived.  When permits are required they will be obtained and if appropriate for facilities services to do the work, work orders will be generated.

BOS Response to Recommendation 21:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 22:  Diesel generators are not being run under load at 50 percent or more of their capacity.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 22:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 22:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 22:  Load bank tests must be scheduled once a year.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 22:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Maintenance of generators will be through county facility services and load bank testing will be included in that service provided by County Facilities.

BOS Response to Recommendation 22:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 23:  Fuel capacity on hand, except for natural gas, is not substantial enough for a major emergency.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 23:  The Fire Department agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 23:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 23:  In future installations or replacements do not use diesel as the fuel of choice.  Any new generator should be propane powered and have three days of fuel on hand.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 23:  This recommendation will be implemented.  Certainly, any new generators or replacements will have the fuel capacity to operate for 3 days.  Which fuel type at this time has not been determined.  The Fire

 

Department supports the recommendation for propane fuel and this will be given a high priority.

BOS Response to Recommendation 23:  Recommendation has been implemented.  Future installations will have 3 days’ worth of fuel on hand and the Fire Chief intends to use propane in the future depending on available financial resources.

Grand Jury Finding 24:  Some of the bigger generators have kilo-ammeters, which are almost impossible to read because of the small load.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 24:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 24:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 24:  Install instrumentation to reflect the load imposed by the facility.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 24:  This recommendation has been implemented.  Work orders have been initiated for the appropriate gauges.

BOS Response to Recommendation 24:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been implemented).

Grand Jury Finding 25:  Some critical items were not on the emergency system: lighting, computers, refrigerators, TV's, truck bay lighting, bathrooms, generator rooms, cooking appliances, and in one case the telephone system.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Finding 25:  Agrees with this finding.

BOS Response to Finding 25:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (Agree).

Grand Jury Recommendation 25:  A thorough inspection of fire facilities needs to be done by an independent outside team, with mechanical and electrical experts, and a person with fire station readiness expertise to re-inspect all fire stations in a more formal and detailed manner than the Grand Jury did in order to determine the full scope of modifications needed.

The S.B.C.F.D. Response to Recommendation 25:  This recommendation has been initiated.  Work orders have been submitted to remedy the finding.  In the meantime, we will provide battery back up emergency lighting for smaller rooms.  The other items identified will be prioritized.  The department will place the highest priority for lighting of apparatus bays and telephone systems which are electrically powered.  The department is currently working with Building and Safety to identify experts to assist in the re-inspect of all fire stations.  Lastly, an outside fire chief will be identified from a neighboring agency to assist with an objective analysis during annual station inspections.

 

BOS Response to Recommendation 25:  The Board adopted the Fire Department’s response as its response (recommendation has been initiated and will be completely implemented during 2000-01).

2000-2001 Grand Jury comments

The Grand Jury is pleased with the spirit of cooperation from all agencies and the Board Of Supervisors to the Findings and Recommendations in the report on Emergency Power.  The need for reliable emergency power is important to the mission of the County and municipal service agencies.  Emergency power is vital, particularly in detention facilities, and not just a matter of overcoming “inconvenient” circumstances. 

The Emergency Power report was prepared with a conservative approach toward the cost of implementing the Recommendations.  Not adding suggested corrective circuits to the generators because other loads may be required in the future is a safety issue.  Not providing features such as UPS backup to computers is false economy.