CLEARWATER — A failure in the fire sprinkler system at the downtown Main Library earlier this month caused $5 million in damage and affected nearly 10,000 books and materials, according to spokesperson Joelle Castelli.
Around noon on Sept. 6, a connection in the sprinkler system broke, causing thousands of gallons of water to flood the third floor and leak to the second and first floors.
Castelli, in a news release, said Clearwater Fire & Rescue and city staff were able to quickly shut off the library’s electrical system and fire suppression system to stop the flow of water. The city also hired Largo-based fire and water cleanup company SERVPRO to bring in drying equipment to minimize damage to the library’s books and technology.
But the damage was extensive, totaling $5 million, which has been submitted to the city’s insurance carrier, according to Castelli.
The library, built in 2004, will remain closed until early November while repairs continue. Because the library houses the City Council chambers on the first floor, city meetings have been held at the Pinellas County communications building at 333 Chestnut St.
The library’s elevator systems and electrical, HVAC and fire suppression systems are under assessment and repairs. The air conditioning system and duct work are being cleaned and treated for microbial growth prevention. Drywall had to be removed and replaced. Affected areas will also require new paint.
The library’s second- and third-floor windows were removed to accommodate the drying equipment, and it took eight days to bring the building’s moisture content back to within normal range, according to Castelli.
Although 10,000 books and materials were transferred to an off-site facility for drying, inspection and cleaning, Castelli said staff believes a majority can be salvaged.
Two visiting art collections displayed on the library’s first floor were unaffected.