Flood blamed on failed sprinkler fitting

Published 12:19 am Friday, December 19, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- A fitting failed.
That's the short version of the Dec. 15 swamping of the Law and Courts Building, which evacuated personnel early in the afternoon and closed the facility for two days for repairs and drying out by a "huge dehumidifier on steroids" at 115 degrees.
The fitting joined two pipes together, County Administrator Terry Proctor said.
Sprinkler heads in the unheated attic are normally filled with compressed air.
In the event of a fire, the heat generated melts wax on the sprinkler head, allowing the compressed air to escape and opening a valve that lets in water.
The county's insurance carrier, Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, sent an adjuster "very early on in the process which served our county very well," Proctor said, "and helped us to locate the dehumidifier on steroids. By using that equipment, which comes in on a truck and is located on a semi outside the building, we should be able to dry that building properly so that there are no mold and mildew problems from this water."
Maintenance Supervisor Dave Dickey and his crew received a round of applause for "their superb efforts throughout this disaster," as Proctor put it.
Proctor also reported that the employee fitness center on the lower level of the E-911 building will be ready to open soon.
Civil counsel reviewed the rules and liability waivers.
A steering committee has been meeting to hash out operational issues. Each participant will need a background check. "E-911 will be moving to the new building in January," Proctor said. "Verizon is completing installation of all of the phone lines at the present time." At the historic 1899 courthouse, carpeting is being installed upstairs this week in anticipation of its occupation by Michigan State University Extension, Drain Commissioner Allen Butchbaker, Veterans Agent Fred Leet and CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates).
Meetings moving
again in March?
Proctor anticipates commission meetings returning to the courthouse from the Council on Aging in March.
Moving two of the aforementioned offices ranks as the top priorities "so that those areas can be vacated and reduce the heat and lights to save costs,' he said.