Monday, October 12, 2015

Library Lightning Strike Mystery Deepens

Fairhope, Alabama

strike area

At a special council meeting last week, the city council declared an emergency so that bids from contractors could immediately be solicited for emergency repairs to the library from a lightning strike that occurred last Summer on July 17th: the usual bid process will be waived.

The resolution says that the strike caused extensive damage to the building, particularly electrical components (motors, light fixtures) and the HVAC system.

Currently there is no air conditioning at all in the Giddens Room and no heat available  anywhere in the building.

Early freezing weather could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional damages to the system's AC chillers (frozen pipes) if not repaired immediately, according to acting electrical department superintendent Clusters.

There was no reason given for the long delay -- or why no announcement was made about the extensive damage in July when it occurred; the Times did report the strike and the library closing for a day, but was told repairs were already being made and we assumed completed long ago.


Clusters said he had determined the lightning hit the metal-roofed turret at the southeast corner of the building doing visible damage (stucco blown off, charring mark down the side), but the Times could find no such damage by a  ground inspection (some stucco had fallen off months before as documented in an earlier Times post); the backside of the turret is not visible from the ground, however.

Councilman Mueller asked if the lighting protection system itself is defective and was told that the company that installed it was coming to do an inspection to find out.

An electrical engineer told the Times later that such massive damage is not possible if the protection system is installed and maintained properly.


missing tile
No one could answer if the yearly inspections of the lighning protection system by certified inspectors necessary to maintain its warranty was being done, or who did it.

Chronic maintenance issues have plagued the building almost since its opening in 2007: a tile has been missing at the entrance for several years, roof leaks, AC problems, stucco falling off among them: Architect/councilman Mueller blames some of it on  poor design.

The council voted to include $45K in next year's budget for the repair: if insurance decides to pays off on the claim the city's share would be only a 5% deductible.

Money had already been included in the new budget to replace entrance tiles and repair the stucco.

(NOTE: The library was first hit by lightning in 2007, causing a roof fire. It had no lightning protection at that time.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that Fairhope is full of bad construction (my opinion) but this one is a big one