Kurt Peterson, Maintenance Supervisor for Dakota City, reported during last week’s Dakota City Council meeting that the city had purchased a grave defroster for use at the cemetery.
“The purchase of a grave defroster saved us a lot of work,” reported Peterson. Up until three and a half months ago when he was hired, when the city needed to dig up a grave and there was solid frost in the ground, they used either the backhoe or the jackhammer to break up the ground and dig up a grave.
“Using a jack hammer meant you had a man out there chipping away at the frozen ground for at least four or five hours before you could easily dig a grave,” reported Peterson. With the use of the grave defroster, a grave can be dug in an hour.
“Not only do we save on the labor cost, but then it also takes out all of the liability in the equation. Using a jack hammer there is always the risk of an injury, using the grave defroster eliminates that,” said Peterson.
The grave defroster is approximately 8 feet long, and 4 feet wide. It is double walled steel construction, insulated between the two walls.
“We surround it with sandto secure the charcoal stays inside and no risk of a grass fire,” said Peterson.
It is then filled with 100 to 120 pounds of charcoal, lit, sealed, and then left for a period of 24 hours or so. Once that time has passed, one man can easily dig the grave within an hour’s time. Propane can also be used to heat the unit, in which case a 100-pound cylinder would be used. However, with the cylinder, it burns at a higher temperature and requires supervision. The cost, at the present time, is also significantly more for propane than charcoal.
For the past three and a half months, Peterson was using a grave defroster loaned to the city for no cost from Sioux City.
“Normally one unit costs between $1100 and $1200 dollars. However, we were able to get this unit at a discounted cost, “ reported Peterson.
The unit had been previously owned, but was dented in the shipping process. The dent did nothing to effect the integrity of the unit, however, the owners returned the unit to the company for a replacement. Due to the dent, the company lowered the cost to $700 for the unit, and that included shipping.
“We don’t make any money using the defroster. The charges that will occur on a funeral bill are strictly the amounts of money it costs us to run it to warm the ground for a grave,” said Peterson. That cost is $110.