In the nick of time
Pet-store animals are saved after a condenser fails during the heat wave
by By Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Jul 24, 2013 | 2725 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STILL THRIVING – Hundreds of fish and small animals were at risk when the air conditioning failed at Colonial House of Pets on July 10. PSE&G workers got it restored despite working in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. Pictured are owner Frances Frank (r.) and employee Josephine Siminsky.
STILL THRIVING – Hundreds of fish and small animals were at risk when the air conditioning failed at Colonial House of Pets on July 10. PSE&G workers got it restored despite working in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. Pictured are owner Frances Frank (r.) and employee Josephine Siminsky.
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With two cats and a dog at home, Larry Maglio, service supervisor for the Jersey City office of PSE&G, is only half joking when he says he couldn’t go home if anything had happened to the pets at Colonial House of Pets in Bayonne after the rooftop condenser went out on July10, and the temperature and the humidity began to rise inside the store.

“When we got there, the humidity readings were off the scale,” he said.

Frances Frank, owner of the 40-year-old pet store on Broadway near 16th Street, said that when the unit started to malfunction, it took a few days to realize what the problem was.

Repairs weren’t going to be easy.

Replacing the rooftop unit requires near-military logistics, including ordering the condenser, getting access to a crane, obtaining permits from the city, not to mention the grueling work on a hot roof.

“The pet store lost air conditioning, and called us,” Maglio said. “Any time there is a condenser on the roof it’s another can of worms. We have to bring in a crane, and coordinate with the town.”

This meant blocking off part of the street and posting no-parking signs.

“There were a lot of steps,” Maglio said. “Generally the town wants 48 hours notice. But in this case that was impossible. So we let the owner talk to the town. As a business owner, she got what we needed.”

For the pets and the workers, this could not have come at a worse time since the temperature was rising inside the store, but also on the roof where technicians needed to be hydrated.

“We used four technicians,” Maglio said. “Normally we don’t use four technicians for a job like this.”

Fortunately, the unit was located in the center of the roof and not near the edge, so that aspect of safety was less of a concern. But still the temperature was an issue.

Downstairs in the store Frank and store worker Josephine Siminsky did everything to make sure the pets were safe.

The store mainly deals with small animals—birds, fish and lizards. The largest of these, Frank said, she moved to her son’s store.

“We set up a lot of fans. So it was cooler in the back where the animals are than it was in the store,” Frank said.

Once coordinated, Maglio’s team went into action. The crane was a problem, but after some phone calls by another supervisor, they got a commitment for the crane the next day.

“Without it, we couldn’t put up the unit,” Maglio said.

The crane was committed to a job in a nearby town, but they managed to squeeze in this job because of the nature of the emergency.

The vendor for the unit was also quick to respond.

From start to finish, the whole thing took about a day and half to complete, although Frank said the workers were on the roof for about six grueling hours on the hottest day of the year. The temperature on the roof was estimated at about 110 F and about 97 inside the store.

“My guys are amazing, they knew what they had to do,” Maglio said. “They were more concerned about the customers and the pets.”

Frank and Siminsky could not stop singing the praises of the appliance service technicians who installed the new condenser noting that Pete Harnett, Henry Hascup, and Tim Dwyer were there early in the morning and stayed late.

“They really did a great job,” Siminsky said.

Also involved in the project was service supervisor, Richie Vieth.

Frank said no animal was lost as a result of the loss of air conditioning and credited the quick response by the team in the middle of the extended heat wave. Frank said this is the second time the condenser failed.

“We lost it last time about 16 years ago,” she said.

But the temperature back then wasn’t nearly as extreme as it was during this year’s episode.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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