TAMPA — Repairs are nearly finished on flooded sections of the Frederick B. Karl County Center, where a gasket joining two water pipes blew out on Father’s Day.
County workers were replacing drywall this week in Commissioner Mark Sharpe’s office on the north side of the building where the flooding occurred overnight June 15. Sharpe is out of the office on vacation but will be able to move back into his second-floor headquarters next week.
Sobik’s Subs, a favorite lunchtime spot for county workers and visitors on the first floor, reopened last week.
The flooding occurred when a gasket on the fire suppression sprinkler system burst on the third floor of the 28-story building at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. The county had to open up the walls in Sharpe’s office to fix the pipes.
In addition to Sharpe’s office and the cafe, there was some damage to Commissioner Al Higginbotham’s outer office, also on the second floor.
The County Center was closed for a day, but employees continued to answer central phone numbers as well as emails.
The fire suppression system underwent a five-year inspection in April by Piper Fire Protection. A number of gaskets were replaced during that inspection, said Joshua Bellotti, interim director of Real Estate and Facilities Services.
“That includes removing some of the valves to inspect them and when they do, they replace the gaskets,” Bellotti said. “A lot of gaskets were replaced.”
But one of the gaskets replaced in April failed on Memorial Day causing a leak, though without the extensive flooding that happened several weeks later.
Bellotti said it hasn’t been determined whether the leaks were caused by faulty gaskets or bad workmanship during the installation.
He said he also is not sure why the second leak caused so much more damage than the first one.
Both occurred on the third floor.
“It has been submitted to county maintenance as a claim, and they’re doing an investigation to determine what the root cause was,” he said.