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More than 600 people attended the funeral service for Westfield Mass police officer Jose Torres in the Westfield State University auditorium

Portable Cooling Equipment Protects and Serves at High-Profile Funeral

Feb. 7, 2014
Portable cooling units manufactured by MovinCool/DENSO and donated by Atlas Sales & Rentals Inc. enabled the community to go ahead with the funeral service in comfort.

When Jose Torres, a popular police officer in Westfield, Mass., was tragically killed on traffic detail in July 2012, Firtion Adams Funeral Home faced a difficult challenge: The only local venue large enough to accommodate the huge crowd anticipated at the service did not have air conditioning, and the town was in the midst of a sweltering heat wave. Portable cooling units manufactured by MovinCool/DENSO and donated by Atlas Sales & Rentals Inc. enabled the community to go ahead with the funeral service in comfort.

“We met with local officials to decide where we could hold the service and televise it at the same time,” James R. Adams, one of the owners of Firtion Adams Funeral Home, said. “Westfield State University (WSU) was the only place this could happen. However, the university’s main auditorium had no air conditioning since it typically is not needed during the academic year.”

Adams was familiar with Atlas Sales & Rentals and called Rob Atkocaitis at the company’s nearby office in Westfield. Atkocaitis visited WSU to meet with Dr. Curt Robie, the university’s assistant vice president for facilities and operations, and his on-site electricians.

“The large expected turnout was going to add a lot of extra heat to the space, so the goal was to install as much cooling as possible,” Atkocaitis said. “We determined that there was enough power to operate three 5-ton units.”

Office Pro 60 portable air conditioner manufactured by MovinCool/DENSO Sales California Inc.

Atkocaitis recommended use of three Office Pro 60 portable air conditioners manufactured by MovinCool/DENSO Sales California Inc. Designed to cool large spaces, Office Pro 60 is a 5-ton air-cooled spot cooler rated at 60,000 Btuh. Upon hearing the project had a tight budget, Atlas offered to donate the equipment.

“The next challenge was placing the units to provide a balance of cooling,” Atkocaitis said. “The units had to be fairly close to the electrical panel and also close to the back of the stage to allow us to exhaust the hot air. We had to add 50 ft of power cord to the units in order to space them out on the stage. We installed one unit on each side of the stage and one in the middle. The two units on the sides were exposed and could be seen by everyone. The unit in the middle of the stage was totally behind the curtain, and we added ducting to blow cool air under the curtain.”

Heat removed from the building was exhausted through a loading dock behind the stage. Condensate drain lines followed the exhaust duct.

Operating noise also had to be addressed because the microphones for the television cameras were extremely sensitive, and air velocity through the units was a concern. By removing the front grilles from the two exposed units, Atlas was able to diffuse the sound to a level where it did not interfere with the speakers on-stage.

“Atlas installed the units the day before the funeral, and the university ran them all night to bring the temperature down to a comfortable level,” Adams said. “There were 600 people in the main auditorium. Despite outdoor temperatures in the 90s, the portable cooling kept the auditorium in the low 70°F range to maintain a comfortable indoor environment, even for the police force in full dress uniform. Also, Atlas’ solution to the noise problem was very effective: You really couldn’t hear the units at all. They worked very well for us.”

In addition to Officer Torres’ many friends, family, and colleagues in the police department, a number of dignitaries attended the service, including the governor of Massachusetts and the mayor of Westfield, who publicly thanked Atlas for donating the cooling equipment.

“Atlas provided a vital service to assist the university in providing the best accommodations possible for this very solemn service,” Robie said.