Safety features to be added to plans for Eldersburg school's water system

January 22, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The Frederick firm that designed a flawed water-heating system for Linton Springs Elementary School is redrawing the plans to include critical safety features, school officials said yesterday.

The absence of back-flow devices, which prevent hot water from entering the cold-water system used for kitchen operations and bathroom plumbing, was a key factor in the state-ordered shutdown of the Eldersburg school's water heating system last week. School officials have said the water-heating system was installed according to the plans prepared by RHL Engineering.

"What we've told them [RHL] is you are now going to redesign all the changes for us that we need to make, and of course at no charge to us," said Kathleen Sanner, director of support services for Carroll schools.

"I think that even though RHL works for an architect, they're responsible as the mechanical/electrical engineer on the job and are to provide a project that meets all local, state and federal codes," Sanner said. "That's clearly stated in their contract."

Sanner said she's not prepared to blame RHL for the flawed system. Maryland adopted regulations requiring the back-flow devices in 1993, but confusion exists among state and county agencies over who is responsible for enforcing the regulations.

Richard H. Lawson, president of RHL, declined to comment on the 1993 code. "They asked us to come up with a solution to the problem," he said.

School officials are reviewing all work involved in the design and construction of the school to determine who is responsible for the problems. Also at issue is why they were not detected by state, county or insurance company inspectors before it opened in August.

Pub Date: 1/22/99

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