The North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave., will be closed until Saturday, Nov. 28 after a burst fire sprinkler pipe flooded a pair of rooms on Sunday afternoon.
Library Director Ted Bodewes said the library’s fire alarm sounded about 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 22. The alarm was triggered by the flow of water in the sprinkler pipes above the main floor meeting room, which was unoccupied at the time.
“One of the fire sprinklers malfunctioned and it discharged all of its water,” Bodewes said.
The water, according to Bodewes, “inundated’ the meeting room and the children’s storytime room, which is located immediately below the meeting room.
The North Riverside Fire Department, which is located almost directly across Desplaines Avenue from the library, responded to the scene and shut off the water to the sprinkler system and also temporarily shut off electricity until the water could be drained from the lower level and squeegeed out of the main floor carpeting.
Fire Chief Brian Basek on Monday said he could not confirm what exactly triggered the deluge. He said it would be very unusual for a sprinkler head to suddenly start discharging water because those are activated individually by heat.
However, temperatures plunged below freezing on Sunday, leading to some speculation that a frozen pipe in the ceiling above the meeting room may have burst.
“[The source of the problem] appears to be in the ceiling, someplace on the north side of the building,” Basek said.
The library hired the maintenance company ServiceMaster to respond to the library Sunday. The company worked through the night on Sunday cleaning up the mess and using dehumidifying fans to help dry out the rooms affected by the water. The greatest danger posed to the library by the water is mold, said Bodewes.
As a result, officials decided to close the library until Saturday as a precaution.
“We just need time to dry out the library, make sure there’s no mold growth, and make sure it’s a safe environment for employees and patrons,” Bodewes said.
Remarkably, the water was contained to areas that don’t house any of the library’s collection or technology equipment.
“It was kind of miraculous that no materials were damaged,” Bodewes said.