It should cost around $5,000 to repair the sprinkler pipe that burst Thursday afternoon and set off Naperville Central High School’s fire alarm.
Steve Mathis, director of buildings and grounds for District 203, said a pipe near the entrance of the school apparently froze during the extreme cold weather early in the week and ruptured during the thaw.
The change in water pressure from the break set off the fire alarm at around 1 p.m., forcing students and staff to evacuate into snowing, 19-degree conditions for about five minutes until the Naperville Fire Department was able to allow everyone back inside.
Mathis said water gushing from the pipe damaged surrounding drywall and knocked down a heating panel, which then broke a showcase.
Once the pipe is fixed, the next step will be to make sure the pipes are more insulated. Mathis said the weather conditions were so cold and extreme that even a small draft could cause this kind of damage. “We had temperatures of 18 below zero with winds of 30 to 35 mph,” Mathis said.
Once the pipes are insulated, workers will move on to installing new drywall, painting and repairing the showcase. Mathis said the $5,000 for the repair work would be covered by insurance.
The incident could have been worse had it occurred outside school hours. Because school was in session, custodians were able to vacuum up the standing water and remove the damaged, wet drywall in about an hour. Mathis also said it helped that the area where the break occurred is covered with floor tile rather than carpet.
Repair work should not interfere with day-to-day operations of the school. The damaged area, which is now cordoned off, is contained in an area adjacent to the entrance doors, and Mathis said entrance doors were back in use as usual Friday morning.