Corroded pipe blamed for massive library flooding

The Burton Barr Central Library will remained closed until June 2018 due to construction on damaged pipes and a new sprinkler system.

PHOENIX - City of Phoenix officials announced a corroded pipe was the culprit in what led to massive flooding inside the Burton Barr Central Library back in July, damaging several floors. 

"We don't know exactly what caused the pipe to corrode and that analysis is still being undertaken," said Ed Zuercher, the city manager. 

According to Zuercher, further investigation found maintenance records going as far back as three years that suggest city employees may have been aware of the problems. The Public Works Department and some of the library staff are both responsible for overseeing that kind of maintenance. 

"A review of these maintenance records shows us the pipe must have been corroded for some period of time," he said. "A review of these maintenance records also indicates there deficiencies in the maintenance in the library fire system on the fifth floor."

The corroded pipe is located in the ceiling of the fifth floor.

Officials say a monsoon storm on July 15 lifted a portion of the roof and slammed it back down, creating a lot of dust. The fire alarm system mistook the dust for smoke and triggered, which caused the corroded pipe to burst.  

The estimate for all of the damage is in the range of $6 million to $8 million, and the city says they're currently working with their insurer to cover some of the costs. It's unclear whether the possible negligence on behalf of the staff could impact how much funds will be allotted. 

The rest of the money will come from the library's reserve, according to Zuercher. 

"The funding for the library is tax payer money so the reserve comes from taxes people pay," he said. 

A report on the condition of the sprinkler system was compiled by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., a corporation of engineers, architects and materials scientists based in Illinois. The report cited the corroded pipe, but also stated the safety of building occupants would not have been affected if there was a fire. 

The city also announced a special team has been created to review the maintenance reports of all City of Phoenix buildings being utilized by the public to ensure everything is up to code. 

Several programs are being relocated to other branches across the valley, visit the library's blog for the latest updates and information

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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