EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 21, 2014

Garage's sprinkler system freezes

Installer accepts blame, makes needed repairs

HAVERHILL — When the city received $1.2 million from the state for downtown projects last year, local leaders said repairs to the aging Merrimack Street parking deck would be a priority.

The city spent nearly $500,000 of that money to install a new sprinkler system at the deck.

But the system has malfunctioned and needs repairs.

During a recent cold spell, water inside the sprinkler’s pipes froze, causing some of them to burst, said David Van Dam, Mayor James Fiorentini’s chief of staff. That caused $13,000 worth of damage, but the city won’t have to pay for it, Van Dam said.

The company that installed the system, Carlysle Engineering Inc. of Boston, is paying for the repairs, he said.

The sprinkler system is located in the ceiling of the lower level of the deck. The deck also has an uncovered upper level.

Van Dam said the “dry’’ sprinkler system is supposed to have no water in its pipes during winter. If fire broke out in the parking deck, sprinkler heads would register the heat, allowing water to be pumped into the pipes, he said.

The company prepared the system for winter prior to the arrival of low temperatures, but somehow water remained in some pipes, leaving them not properly weatherized, Van Dam said.

Van Dam said that about a month ago, when the region was hit with near-zero temperatures, pipes in several areas of the sprinkler system burst. He said the damage was discovered and the company was notified. He said repairs began a few weeks ago and should be completed within a week or so.

“It was a rare occurrence and the company that installed the system identified that and is making repairs at no cost to the city,” he said.

He said that while work is taking place, parking is restricted in just those areas. Van Dam said the Fire Department was told what areas of the system would be inoperative while repairs are made.

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