RSA Tower's sprinklers ran for 30 min. before MFD was called | News
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA)- The water sprinklers that automatically activated to suppress a smoldering electrical fire inside the RSA Tower in downtown Montgomery flowed freely for more than 30 minutes before authorities with the Montgomery Fire Department were notified.
A private monitoring company, Furlongs, did not notify authorities until 7:35am Thursday of the situation. By that time, the smoldering fire was extinguished, but the water had already caused electrical issues, shutting down power on 14 floors. Now, RSA officials are seeking answers as to why there was such a delay.
According to key administrative engineers at Raycom Media, a tenant of the tower and owner of this television station, the situation started on the 17th floor when electrical wiring shorted and started smoldering. Although the incident is being called an electrical fire, there were no open flames.
The smoldering wires triggered the building's fire suppressant system, which quickly extinguished the electrical fire. Unfortunately, the water became a major issue due to its connection with the building's electrical systems.
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The building was evacuated, and the Montgomery Fire Department was called to the scene. By the time they arrived, fire was not the issue.
Electricity was not affected above the 17th floor, but authorities made the decision at 8:45am to kill all power to the building and order all occupants to remain outside. Repair crews started the daunting task of inspecting, cleaning and drying all wiring from the 17th floor all the way down to ground level.
Employees of 16 tenants, including Raycom Media, the Associated Press, the Capital City Club, and the building's largest tenant, the Alabama Department of Public Health with its 800+ employees occupying 10 floors, had to leave the facility. They won't be allowed back inside Friday, either.
The situation had different effects on each tenant's workflow. Even though Raycom Media's headquarters is on the 20th floor, computer servers were shutdown when the building went dark. That affected email systems, programming systems and commercial scheduling conflicts for the company's 47 television stations spread across the United States. Company officials quickly set up servers in a secondary studio at WSFA 12 News' East Delano Avenue location.
Thursday's incident involved only one sprinkler system in a maintenance closet on the 17th floor. There were no injuries reported to any personnel.
This isn't the first incident at the RSA Tower. In 2006 a water sprinkler pipe burst on the 23rd floor, sending water cascading down the stairwells.
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.
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