Update: Sprinkler system repair triggered false alarm at Government Center

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comApril 18, 2013 

The Columbus Government Center was evacuated for about an hour this morning after a fire alarm went off while a maintenance crew attempted to repair a leaking sprinkler in the garage.

"The fire alarm went off and we put our plan to work," City Manager Isaiah Hugley said. "People responded the way we would want them to respond. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, and all is well and we are back in business."

Hugley said the building was evacuated about 8 a.m. as city employees reported to work and people were visiting the building for normal business in various areas. None of the sprinkler heads went off but there was water in the pipes which triggered the fire alarm system to activate, he said.

"We were able to evacuate all the floors and they were able to put our evacuation plan to work," Hugley said. "It was a good drill to really determine that our evacuation plan actually works. I'm pleased to see that it works and we can get people out of the building in relative short notice."

The events in Boston this week contributed to the reaction by employees and visitors to the building. "There is a heightened sense of alert," the city manager said.

Deputies blocked portions of First Avenue, Second Avenue, 10th Street and Ninth Street during the evacuation, said Maj. Randy Robertson of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office. At 9 .am. the alarm could still be heard going off. Firefighters and representatives from the alarm company were inside the building, Robertson said. All roads were reopened just after 9 a.m.

Hugley described the leak as minor but it needed attention. "Staff went forward to do what they would do to handle a minor leak and even called in a contractor to assist with it," he said. "It was just an unfortunate thing."

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