MOREAU — At long last, after four years, a group of competent workers are fixing the fire suppression system in the attic of Town Hall.
Andrew Battisti gamely filled his pockets with parts, walked gingerly from rafter to rafter into the shadows and swapped out broken pieces of the system by the light of his head lamp Thursday.
Then he walked all the way back, rafter by rafter, to pick up more parts.
“Never take more than you can fit in your pockets,” he said.
The work is taking place in an area with no lights and no floor. To reach the fire suppression pipes, he has to climb up into the rafters just below the roof, balancing without a ladder because there’s no place to set one up.
“It’s not a hard job,” he said. “Just a little here and a little there.”
The work started a week ago and will take about two more weeks, Supervisor Todd Kusnierz said.
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When it’s done, the system will be tested, first in an air test and then in a pressurized test, to make sure it works, he said.
“If that is successful, then that beeping that has occurred in this building since 2013 — it was happening when we moved into this building because the system wasn’t completed — and then from 2015 to this month, will stop,” Kusnierz said. “That beeper has been beeping in the hallway in front of the town clerk’s office — I have to commend them all.”
The beeping can be clearly heard throughout the building. The alarm signals that the attic fire suppression system is offline. It can’t be turned off without turning off all of the fire alarms for Town Hall, so employees have endured the sound for four years.
The system broke in March 2015, sending a waterfall of water into the brand new offices at Town Hall. It caused more than $150,000 in damage, which was covered by insurance.
Fixing the system turned out to be much harder than cleaning up after the flood.
Inspectors who examined the system after the flood found a host of errors in how it was built.
Many bolts appeared to be unevenly tightened or under-tightened, some pipes were pitched incorrectly and the system largely used the wrong type of joint, according to the inspection report.
The contractor for the work, Crisafulli Brothers, and the subcontractor who installed the system, Absolute Fire Protection, did not repair it. The town is now in litigation.
Finally, the town hired an engineer to design all of the changes required to fix the system, and went out to bid in search of a new contractor to do the work.
Professional Fire Protection of Johnstown was the only bidder, for $36,000, and was immediately hired.