Cooling Tower Risk Assessment

The above brief video clip shows hot steam exhaust near a bottle type cooling tower, that is a problem, heating up the cooling tower risks Legionella growth in the cooling tower and an explosive Legionella outbreak.

EMSD requires an independent auditor to inspect the cooling tower system every year.

#coolingtower #EMSD #coolingtoweraudit #audit #legionella #hongkong @johnherbert

EMSD requires an independent auditor to inspect the cooling tower system every year.

EMSD requires an independent auditor to inspect the cooling tower system every year.

Legionella Outbreak, February 2020, Choi Hung Estate, Hong Kong

No surprise Legionella discovered

After any prolonged shutdown, whether it is annual shutdown, holidays or the COVID-19 lockdown, buildings have idle water systems that are stagnating and risk fostering the growth of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease.

The BBC has reported three schools in the UK will delay opening because Legionella has been identified. Here is the link:

It is no surprise, the extended holiday / lockdown means the building water systems have been idle allowing water to stagnant, providing an environment for the growth of bacteria. If the water systems have not been flushed, the water system needs to be assessed.


Contingency Planning

Management and managers should have contingency plans ready, just in case. However, the on-going public health emergency, recently labelled by WHO as a COVID19 pandemic, has exposed that organisations and employers are not prepared for change or business interruption. Even when organisations had some broad ideas, it was never formalised in a plan and never tested, only after the idea was tested was it revealed the idea did not work in practice.

In addition to the general confusion, caused by poor communications, random individuals post opinions and “advice” on social media, would you believe that an electrician is sending COVID19 pandemic advice!

In the context of the built environment, I am raising this issue because building operators, organisations and employers fail to plan for events that can be reasonably foreseen, such as fire. Organizing periodic fire drills to safely escape from a building in the event of a fire should be routine, but sadly its not.

Yet, there are countless tragedies every year, fatalities caused by a range of issues, locked fire escape doors trapping people inside buildings being one common issue. I have often been called to witness standby generator tests, which would not start! Therefore, in the event of an emergency those safety systems have no power!

COVID19 and Legionnaires Disease

It’s generally accepted that the number of Legionnaires Disease infections is under-reported, I predicted that the heightened public health surveillance for COVID19 would reveal an increasing number of Legionnaires Disease infections because both COVID19 and Legionella cause pneumonia.

Here in Hong Kong, there is an example that might illustrate the point, case details provided by CHP are very limited [link] nevertheless it is interesting to consider the case of a male who was admitted to a hospital on 4 Feb. 2020 [NOTE: that is the same date when five Legionnaires Disease outbreak cases residing in the nearby housing estates were reported ] he was diagnosed as pneumonia, treated and released on 19th February 2020. He didn’t recover and was admitted again on 24th February 2020, but this time Legionnaires Disease was the diagnosis.

ABOVE: Ironic that fire sand bucket was used to hold open the fire/smoke stop door

When to plan?

To be perfectly blunt, its too late to try planning your escape from fire while trying to exit from a burning building, a decent manager will have a plan and considered difficult questions, or force a plan to be created, before a disaster strikes.