Category Archives: Government Office

Terre Haute, IN – Arson fire at corrections facility contained by automatic sprinkler system

A man used a portable weed sprayer full of flammable liquid as he set fire inside multiple offices of the state parole office of Vigo County Community Correction early last Wednesday. Arson investigator Norm Loudermilk of the Terre Haute Fire Department said surveillance video shows the man – dressed in black and wearing a face mask – use a pry bar to open a locked public access door of the building and carry the container into the building. Minutes later, fire alarms sounded.

Multiple offices were entered and sprayed with the accelerant, then set ablaze, Loudermilk said.  The building sprinkler system suppressed the fire, but the building sustained smoke and water damage.  Loudermilk described the suspect as a white male about 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighing about 230 pounds. He is seen on video walking up to the building from the south, and exiting about a half-hour later.

“It was obvious that the fires were set in each of the offices. Not all of the offices were burned, but each office had been gone through and then several offices were set on fire,” Loudermilk said of the state parole office, where firefighters found heavy smoke when they arrived.  Loudermilk said no one saw the suspect enter or exit the building, though one staff member was on break outside the building at the time the suspect left.  The alarm sounded about 3:43 a.m.

About 60 people were inside the building, which houses the work release center for community corrections.

Those people were evacuated safely with no injuries, and held outside the building. The fact that people were inside the building asleep in dormitories at the time the fire was set makes the arson even more serious, Loudermilk said.

Tips about the suspect can be submitted to the Terre Haute Police Department at 812-238-1661 or through Crime Stoppers at 812-238-STOP.

Firefighters entered the building to find the fire supression system had worked.

Bill Watson, executive director of community corrections, said the door entered by the suspect was not alarmed because it is a public access door used daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., when it is locked by staff.

Video shows the staff locking and checking the door to make sure it was secure, Watson said.

Water and smoke damage occurred throughout the building, he said. Ceiling tiles were water-soaked and must be removed.

Teams from ServePro were cleaning up the dormitory area and control room of work release Wednesday morning. Watson said he expected to have residents moved back into two dormitories today.

About 54 to 56 residents and 4 staff were in the buildling when the fire alarm sounded, Watson said. All exited the building without injury.

“We had protocols in place and those were followed,” Watson said. “They shut down our systems so that damage was minimized, so we should be able to get the security system back online.”

The second floor of the building houses offices for the Title IV-D court, county probation, state parole and Choices Consulting Center, which offers drug and alcohol counseling services.

Community corrections, which includes work release and electronic monitoring, are housed on the first floor of the building.

Forensic teams from THPD were at the scene processing evidence, including collecting fingerprints and liquid believed to be accelerant.

Ponoka, AB, Canada – Fire in recycle bin at government building extinguished by sprinkler system

Ponoka RCMP are investigating a small fire that occurred at the Ponoka Provincial Building Wednesday around lunch. Along with police, the Ponoka County East District Fire Department were called to the scene where a blue recycle bin appears to have burst into flames. The building’s fire sprinkler system was set off, which extinguished the fire, and also covered a portion of the main floor. What was left of the bin was moved outside while RCMP investigated. A small amount of water was left on the floor near the sprinkler that went off.

Farmers Branch, TX – Office fire on 9th floor of Federal Building extinguished by single sprinkler

*** FIRE DEPARTMENT REPORTED – NO MEDIA COVERAGE *** On the afternoon of September 13, 2017, the Farmers Branch Fire Department was dispatched to an automatic fire alarm at a 14-story Federal Building located at 4050 Alpha Rd. Upon arrival, smoke was showing on the ninth floor. A full assignment response was initiated. Upon investigation, fire crews identified an oscillating fan and chair on fire in a ninth floor conference room. One sprinkler head activated and extinguished the fire. Fire was determined to be accidental. No injuries occurred.

Riverside, CA – Arson fire at social services building contained by sprinkler system; No injuries reported

A chair and other items in the Riverside County Department of Social Services building in Riverside’s Arlington neighborhood were set on fire Saturday night, authorities say.

Nobody was hurt in the fire, which set off alarms at 7:37 p.m. at the 21,000-square-foot building in the 3900 block of Reynolds Road, behind the Lowe’s on Magnolia Avenue, according to a Riverside Fire Department news release. The statement did not say anyone had been arrested.

Arriving firefighters found that the front door had been forced open and smoke was coming out, the news release said. When they went inside, they found “evidence of vandalism.”

The fire set off the building’s automatic sprinkler system and it was contained to an “office area,” the news release said. That’s where firefighters found a chair and other items that had been ignited. Firefighters shut off the sprinkler system and removed “large amounts of water from the building,” the news release said.

The Fire Department’s Arson Task Force is investigating.

Wilkes-Barre, PA – Arson fire at Children and Youth Services Center extinguished by sprinkler system

The Luzerne County human services building on Pennsylvania Avenue was closed Monday after someone threw a “fire bomb” into an office, according to an email to county council members. In the email, council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck told fellow members she was informed Children and Youth Executive Director Joanne Van Saun’s office was the one targeted.  A fire at the building at approximately 5:37 a.m. Monday was quickly extinguished by the sprinkler system, District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said.

She added the incident is under investigation, and there are several potential leads for persons of interest. She declined to offer further details. “Based on the circumstances, this is an active criminal investigation,” Salavantis said.  County Manager C. David Pedri said the building would be reopened today with crisis counselors on site to provide counseling for those who needed it.

Salavantis said it was not known how long the investigation would take, and she declined to provide specifics on how the fire started. The building contains the offices for the county’s Human Services Division, including Children and Youth, drug and alcohol programs, and Mental Health and Developmental Services. The Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming counties is also located there.  Pedri said there was never a lapse in coverage during the day.  “All emergency calls for the Children and Youth division were diverted to on-call workers,” he said in a news release.  State Police and Wilkes-Barre police and firefighters were at the scene along with numerous agents from the Luzerne County Sheriff’s Office.

Media, PA – Sprinklers activate to help control car fire in courthouse’s underground parking garage

The county courthouse and government center was closed Tuesday morning after a car fire in a below-ground parking garage flooded the building with smoke.

“They tried to fight it with fire extinguishers, but it just got ahead of them,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Mario Civera. “The sprinklers went off and the fire department was called in.”

Civera said the fire broke out about 8:20 a.m. and was brought under control within 20 minutes. The car was in a corner of the B-level of the parking garage directly underneath the government center.

The building does not open to the public until 8:30 a.m., but Civera said some employees and cafeteria staff were already inside. Park Police attempted to use fire extinguishers and hoses before the sprinklers kicked in, he said.

“Everybody was evacuated, everybody came out safe,” Civera said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Civera said there were about 75 or 100 cars already in the garage at the time the fire broke out and that employees would be able to retrieve their vehicles Tuesday morning.

Employees and citizens crowded the surrounding sidewalks Tuesday morning as they waited for word on the building. Civera made the call to close the buildings for the day at about 10 a.m., but said the building would re-open Wednesday.

“We want to make sure all the numbers are right, the carbon monoxide level is where it’s supposed to be, the sprinkler systems is intact, so it can accept the public and the employees (Wednesday),” he said. “We just want to make it’s a safe place for tomorrow for the residents and for the employees.”

Upper Darby Mayor Tom Miccozie, who also serves as the county’s director of risk management, said the county does a lot of planning and drills twice a year for just such an emergency. He praised the park police for employing extinguishers as they were trained to do and employees who “acted 100-percent the way they should.”

Micozzie said there was no need to open windows in the complex, which has carbon monoxide detectors installed.

“The fire company is checking now for carbon monoxide levels throughout the whole complex,” he said. “Cleanup companies are already on scene, they’ll do their work with some aromatic sprays, make sure that all our buildings are safe and then we’ll reopen tomorrow morning.

Responding crews included Media, Rose Tree, Springfield, Aston and emergency medical services. Eddystone also lent a hovercraft to the effort, which was backed up to the garage exit with its fan active in an attempt to clear out smoke. Civera praised the first responders for their quick and professional response to the alarm.

“They were here right on the money,” he said. “Thank God nobody got hurt.”

This is a breaking story, return for more updates later in the day.

Wilmington, MA – Fire at public safety building doused by sprinkler system

Firefighters have long touted the value of sprinklers for saving lives and preventing property damage, and on Wednesday afternoon Wilmington firefighters got an up close look at just how effective the devices really are.

Fire Chief Rick McClellan said a commercial dryer in the firefighters’ gear and laundry room caught on fire about 5:30 p.m., as firefighters were elsewhere in the public-safety building. He said firefighters were in the kitchen on the second-floor of the public-safety building when they noticed smoke coming from the area where the gear and laundry room and fire apparatus are.

As they went to investigate, they noticed heavy smoke pouring from a 12-inch vent in the roof of the apparatus bay, and arrived downstairs to discover a dryer fire that was contained by a single sprinkler head in the gear/laundry room. “The sprinkler contained it to the area and the contents inside the dryer,” McClellan said. “Here we are with nine guys upstairs and there’s a fire going on and the sprinkler put it out.”

The dryer was a total loss, as were the uniforms that were drying in it, but McClellan said the sprinkler head prevented the blaze from causing any structural damage. Drains in the floor of the laundry/gear room minimized water damage, he said.

All the firefighters had to do was turn the sprinkler off, vent some of the smoke from the fire and clean the floors. “The sprinkler mitigated the whole problem,” McClellan said. “They didn’t even have to bring in a hose line.”

Cleveland, OH – Sprinkler system contains overnight fire at government office

According to Cleveland fire officials, a computer on the fourth floor caught fire at Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s headquarters at 3900 Euclid Avenue just after midnight Monday. The sprinkler system was triggered and contained the fire to the desk where the computer was located near the middle of the building.

Cleveland firefighters said the windows in the building are bolted shut and that delayed them from clearing the smoke. Firefighters used four large fans to ventilate the building once the windows were opened. Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District CEO Julius Ciaccia Jr. said they will be open Monday and the damage was minimal to the area of the fire on the fourth floor. The scene was cleared just before 1:30 a.m.

Minneapolis, MN – Fire at City Hall extinguished by sprinklers

A fire broke out at Minneapolis City Hall overnight, forcing 911 dispatchers to evacuate. The fire started in a Minneapolis police evidence room around 1 a.m. Monday.

The city hall sprinkler system put out the fire, but also caused some water damage. City hall offices will be open for business as usual Monday, but the police evidence room will remain closed.

The 911 dispatch center is located near the evidence room, so workers were moved to the third precinct headquarters to continue handling calls. By 5:30 a.m. Monday, all 911 staff returned to the call center at city hall, with services operating normally.

Norfolk, MA – Fire from gas explosion at District Attorney’s office contained with help from sprinklers

A gas explosion and fire early Sunday at Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s Canton offices was “held in check by outside master streams and operating sprinkler heads,” Canton fire Chief Charles Doody said.

Doody said firefighters secured vital records and evidence once they were able to stabilize the office building, which shares the Shawmut Industrial Park with the separately housed Norfolk Probate and Family Court.

Doody said the office building’s roof was recently cleared off, leaving gas meters buried “under several feet of snow.”  Around 1:50 a.m. yesterday, gas backed into a mechanical room, ignited and exploded, 
severely damaging a wall shared by the first and second floors.