PRYOR — Google Inc. has found a use for some spare water-storage tanks that help cool its Oklahoma data center.
The Internet search and advertising giant donated 30 large storage tanks to several local fire departments and county commissioners.
“We have fantastic public servants in Mayes County and all over the state,” Mike Wooten, operations manager for Google's data center, said in a statement. “We hope these water-storage tanks will help make their jobs easier in emergency situations and provide an ongoing benefit for many Oklahomans.”
Among those getting storage tanks are Mayes County; Oklahoma State University's Fire Training Facility; the city of Chouteau; Perkins Fire Department; and Pawnee Fire Department.
Google uses water-storage tanks as part of the energy-efficient cooling system for its data center, which typically requires lots of electricity and cool temperatures to keep servers operational.
Mayes County Emergency Manager John Janzen said Google approached county officials about the spare tanks. Some agencies will use the tanks for water storage, but a few want to convert the tanks into tornado shelters, he said. Each tank weighs about 15,000 pounds and is 10 feet tall by about 30 feet long.
“Some of the city and county workers and fire department personnel really don't have safe rooms to go to in case there was a tornado,” Janzen said. “These metals buildings some of them are in really aren't very safe. A few of them had the idea to take those tanks and modify them a little bit with some vent pipes and access entrances. They will dig a hole, bury them about halfway in the ground and push the dirt on top of them to use as a shelter from a storm.”
Each converted tank could hold 20 to 25 people in an emergency, Janzen said.
Janzen said Google provided a crane to load the tanks onto county trailers. The tanks are being stored at the Mayes County Fairgrounds until they can be distributed to the various agencies in the next few weeks.
Tanks valued at $1.6M
The 30 water-storage tanks would have a value of more than $1.6 million if bought new, he said.
“Google has been a very active participant in our county,” Janzen said. “They've been great to have here, and we really appreciate what they've done for us countywide.”
OSU will use three tanks to help train firefighters at its training facility west of Stillwater. Training officials said the area doesn't have adequate water pressure, so they will use the tanks to pump water to fire trucks.
“The additional storage will be a great benefit to provide water for the rural area if the wildfire season continues,” said Bryan West, manager of the fire service training facility.
Chouteau Fire Department plans to use donated tanks for confined space training, which helps firefighters learn how to rescue victims trapped in small spaces.