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The Clearwater Main Library sustains $5 million in damage following a sprinkler system flood



The downtown Main Library will remain closed until early November as repair efforts continue.

In Clearwater, a fire sprinkler system failure occurred at the downtown Main Library earlier this month, resulting in $5 million in damage and impacting nearly 10,000 books and materials, as confirmed by spokesperson Joelle Castelli.

Around noon on September 6th, a connection within the sprinkler system ruptured, leading to the flooding of the third floor with thousands of gallons of water, which subsequently leaked to the second and first floors.

Castelli, in an official statement, reported that Clearwater Fire & Rescue, along with city staff, acted swiftly to deactivate the library’s electrical and fire suppression systems, halting the water flow. The city also engaged the services of SERVPRO, a Largo-based fire and water cleanup company, to bring in drying equipment to minimize the damage to the library’s books and technology.

However, the damage incurred was substantial, amounting to $5 million, and this has been filed with the city’s insurance carrier, according to Castelli.

The library, originally constructed in 2004, will continue to remain closed until early November as repairs progress. Since the library accommodates the City Council chambers on the first floor, city meetings have been relocated to the Pinellas County communications building at 333 Chestnut St.

Assessments and repairs are being carried out on the library’s elevator systems, electrical infrastructure, HVAC, and fire suppression systems. Additionally, the air conditioning system and ductwork are undergoing cleaning and treatment to prevent microbial growth. Drywall had to be removed and replaced, and affected areas will also require fresh paint.

To facilitate the drying process, the second- and third-floor windows of the library were removed, and it took eight days to restore the building’s moisture content to a normal range, as stated by Castelli.

Although 10,000 books and materials were relocated to an off-site facility for drying, inspection, and cleaning, the library’s staff remains hopeful that a significant portion can be salvaged. Fortunately, two visiting art collections displayed on the library’s first floor were unaffected by the incident.


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