State House sprinkler leak damages offices

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AUGUSTA — A pinhole leak in the sprinkler system at the State House last week caused a surprising amount of water to gush throughout the second and third floors, but damage was minimal and has for the most part been repaired.

Grant Pennoyer, executive director of the Legislative Council, who oversees facilities concerns at the State House complex, said light fixtures, ceilings and some floors were damaged last week, but for the most part the damage has been contained and repaired.

Pennoyer said water damage to offices for some of Gov. Paul LePage’s staff on the second floor — down the hall and around the corner from the governor’s personal office — still needs to be addressed.

Pennoyer said the situation started last Tuesday when a fire alarm went off on the fourth floor and “charged” the sprinkler system, meaning piping filled with water but the system did not discharge. That revealed a pinhole-sized leak.

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“It seemed like water was just pouring out of the ceiling,” said Pennoyer. “The damage wasn’t as bad as we first feared.”

Because much of the water routed through light fixtures, it poured into the center of rooms and caused little or no damage to files or equipment. The damage was confined mostly to the governor’s offices and what is now the Senate Republican office (which as of Wednesday will become the Senate Democrats office).

Pennoyer said crews are also working on some slow, unrelated leaks in the heating system and that some offices may be a bit chilly for the next few days as a result. He said keeping up with maintenance in the historic building, parts of which date back to the 1830s or a major renovation in 1909, continues to be a challenge.

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