Police steamed after small fire sets off sprinklers at headquarters
on September 16, 2015
It wasn’t the heat, it was the humidity that got to members of the Richmond Police Department when a small fire broke out in the department headquarters Sunday morning.
The fire-activated sprinkler systems extinguished the flames, but the sprinklers caused water damage severe enough to force the temporary relocation of 30 detectives and supervisors. Smoke damage added to the mess.
Police Chief Chris Magnus posted a note on the department’s Facebook page saying the fire caused minimal damage and didn’t last long. But he said water from the sprinkler system caused extensive flooding and damaged carpets, furniture and ceiling and roof tiles.
Inspector Eric Govan of the Richmond Fire Department said four engines were sent to the scene, but flames were out by the time firefighters arrived. Govan said no injuries were reported and that authorities had not estimated the cost of the damage.
Police Capt. Mark Gagan said the sprinkler system released water that seeped through the ceiling and into the first floor. He said a defective portable fan, plugged into a wall socket in a second-floor conference room, might have caused the fire, according to a preliminary investigation.
A team of insurance experts visited police headquarters on Wednesday to help determine the exact cause, Gagan added.
Gagan said the 30 detectives and supervisors will be moved to other locations within the 10,000-square-foot headquarters at 1701 Regatta Boulevard, and to other substations. Gagan said the fire and sprinkler downpour was “very disruptive.”
Magnus echoed that sentiment in his Facebook message.
“This is more complicated than just finding people a ‘new place to sit,’” he wrote. “It means transferring computers, changing network operations, assuring the necessary security, and a whole host of other issues.”
Gagan estimated it would take four to six weeks to clean up the flood damage and move personnel back to their desks.
The Richmond police are also taking precautions against potential mold problems caused by the water damage, and plan to bring in a restoration company, Gagan said.
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