Malfunction at Farmington courthouse floods clerical area

Published: Monday, Dec. 9 2013 12:40 p.m. MST

For the second time in two years, an overhead sprinkler froze at the Farmington courthouse, causing heavy flood damage Monday.

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FARMINGTON — For the second time in two years, an overhead sprinkler froze at the Farmington courthouse, causing heavy flood damage Monday.

Damage to the clerical area of the 2nd District Court building, 800 W. State in Farmington, was estimated to be between $18,000 and $20,000, said court executive Sylvester Daniels Jr. Most of that was in the form of damaged computer equipment.

"The damage is to our electronic items. The sprinkler head was right above a large computer/scan/fax and copier machine, so that will probably have to be replaced," he said.

The incident began after 10 a.m. when the courthouse's heating system malfunctioned.

"Our heating and air control system kind of took a detour," Sylvester said.

The clerical area and the courthouse hallways dropped to 40 degrees. Crews trying to fix the problem soon discovered that in the ceiling area, not only was hot water not running through the pipes but outside air was being sucked in, he said.

As soon as the system was turned back on and water restored, that's when workers discovered that the subzero temperatures had caused the sprinkler head to freeze and open up.

The water was immediately turned off again. But, by that time, "hundreds of gallons" of water were already in the pipes, Sylvester said.

"Once it's open, the water that's in the pipes in the system is going to drain out there," he said. "It's a big system. So most of the water that was under pressure came out, and any water left in the pipes will just continue to drain out."

The damaged sprinkler continued to drip water hours after the water was shut off.

"None of this affected our servers or our lines to the server. It was individual CPUs. So, the ones that got hit with water, from what I understand, staff had ran and unplugged them anyway," Sylvester said.

A makeshift help desk was set up in the hallway outside juvenile court. Otherwise, those needing to make court filings were encouraged to visit the Bountiful and Layton court locations. Sylvester anticipated the clerical area reopening late Monday or Tuesday morning.

None of the courtrooms were flooded, but all court hearings were temporarily halted while crews attended to the flooding. Court resumed at 11:45 a.m.

He also noted "that sprinkler head froze last year, same thing." Sylvester said crews were investigating the problem to find a cause so it didn't happen again.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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