Burst pipe soaks Senate offices

cleaning up water

Workers clean up soaked tiles on the first floor of the James Senate Office Building after a pipe in the cupola burst. Photo by Dan Menefee.

A burst pipe in the cupola of the James Senate Office Building on Monday afternoon soaked offices, staff members and carpets down to the ground floor, and closed down the building for much of the day.

Sam Cook, director of Annapolis area buildings and grounds for the Department of General Services, said that cleanup crews and DGS staff will be working around the clock to get most of the building back in order by Tuesday morning. The James Building, built in 1938, was completely renovated nine years ago and houses offices for 35 of the 47 senators.

Cook said that the 3-inch pipe that feeds the building’s fire suppression system most likely failed because it was old. Once the pipe burst, water flowed through the halls, down stairs, and all the way to the ground floor. The building was evacuated and closed, since the sprinkler system would not work.

The report of the burst pipe arrived at Cook’s office at about 1:30 p.m. Monday.

“By that time, some of the ceiling tiles had already dropped, and the floors were already wet,” he said.

People were rushed out of their offices, but Sen. Nancy Jacobs was able to capture a couple of pictures of water gushing through light fixtures and disintegrated ceiling tiles on her Twitter feed.

Cook estimated that a few offices that received more extensive water damage could need more work.

Senate President Mike Miller announced at Monday night’s session that some senators on the top floors of the building can find temporary accommodations in conference rooms.

“We hope to get through this as quickly as possible,” Miller said.

–Megan Poinski

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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