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Private meeting held Wednesday about Duval courthouse fire system issues

7:13 PM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We are learning new information that the new courthouse may not be ready to open Tuesday because of problems with the fire and smoke systems.

In a private, closed door meeting at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, staff from Mayor Alvin Brown's office met with legal council, the fire department, city department heads and one city council member: Bill Bishop.

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After the meeting, Bishop told First Coast News, "There's problems going on over there and it's questionable whether or not the building will be able to be open on Tuesday."

That was the theme of this meeting that lasted about an hour.  They discussed persisting problems with the systems that would protect people inside of this courthouse if there was a fire. 

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"What's happening now, if a fire alarm goes off in this zone, or a fire alarm goes off in this zone, which doesn't do any good, because it's not tied in properly," Bishop explained.

For example, the systems that would direct smoke away from people are not working.

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"They have had a number of systems have not passed. Not passed or failed, same thing. They're not ready for the fire marshal and the building inspector are not prepared to sign off on them yet because they don't function like they're supposed to."

Now, Councilman Bishop, who is also a member of the courthouse oversight committee is wondering if the city has a plan B for a courthouse, if the new one doesn't open Tuesday. 

"There may be a plan B. I was not made aware of what it is," Bishop said.

There are still many unanswered questions even Councilman Bishop cannot answer. First, what is that plan B if the new courthouse does not open? Why did the city close the old courthouse if the fire protection systems were failing? 

We have also called Chief Judge Donald Moran, as he is the person who has the say on the courthouse opening. As of early Wednesday evening, we have not yet heard back.

First Coast News

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