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E-mail trail describes problems at new courthouse prior to city closing the old courthouse

6:25 PM, Jun 8, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- First Coast News has learned the order to close the old courthouse came at the same time the new courthouse still could not pass smoke suppression tests.

RELATED: New courthouse to open for move-in next week

We have e-mails dating back to May 11, between fire inspectors, courthouse contractors and the city. That's exactly one week before the city closed the old courthouse, in preparation of opening the new one.

On Friday, May 11th at 2:44 p.m., the inspector notes, quote "All barriers must be fully operational and ready at the time of testing."  In an e-mail later that night, quote, "Stair shaft #1 - failed due to the missing door at the bottom floor." 
Two other shaft doors failed that night.

The inspector wrote, "... it is imperative that all ceiling tiles are in place to facilitate smoke evacuation system testing ..." 

The day before the city closes the old courthouse, Thursday, May 17, inspectors wrote about smoke zone 1H passing, but only, "once the large gap on the automatic sally port gate was blocked off with a cardboard."

In this same e-mail, they also wrote about other failed smoke zones, and quote, "... the heat detector actuation sequence didn't operate as it should ..."

They warned of notifying the engineer and fire marshal if there are any adjustments with the systems in the future. That same day, one day before the city closes the old courthouse, the inspector wrote, "So it appears that the operation of the sprinklers in the central atrium zone might not operate that smoke evacuation zone." As we have reported, the atrium is still one of the trouble spots.

The day the city closed the old courthouse, Friday, May 18, inspectors wrote this e-mail at 6:25 p.m.  "Smoke zone 1H failed the repeated test ..."  They noted three additional smoke zones failing.  "Smoke zone 3W failed the repeated test."  "Smoke zone 4W failed the test."

And, "Atrium smoke zone test was stopped after three rollup doors did not function properly."

The e-mails continue through the following week with repeated problems with multiple areas, and a warning from the inspector about a long history of fatalities from smoke spread through unprotected vertical elevator shafts.

We contacted David DeCamp with the city Friday at 1:12 p.m.  We asked for an interview with someone from the city about how much they knew regarding the smoke problems, a week before the city closed the old courthouse.  As of Friday evening, we have not heard back.

First Coast News

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