The City-County Building in downtown Wheeling does not have a sprinkler system, but work to install one should begin in late spring or summer, according to Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart.
Ohio County has received a grant for $100,000 through the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Grant Program to place a sprinkler system in the building, and the projected cost to begin installation on the upper floors is $193,195, Stewart said.
He said the project should go out to bid by the end of this month, and bids received would be opened in April. Stewart then expects work to begin in late May or June, and for contractors to be on the job 30 days.
The City-County Building was constructed beginning in 1958, when building codes did not require sprinkler systems in public facilities.
An upgrade to meet current requirements only is mandated if the building were to change ownership.
"But it only makes sense to do this," Stewart said. "Sprinkling is an aid to saving lives during a fire.
The City-County Building is comprised of block walls, which does make it "fairly fireproof," Stewart said. "If there were to be a fire, it wouldn't spread fast," Stewart said.
In addition to placing a sprinkler system, county officials also are seeking to upgrade the building's fire alarm system and to place additional smoke heads within offices.
Fire alarm improvements are necessary as the alarms are first to alert those in a building there is a fire, according to Stewart. The sprinklers go off later when they sense heat near them.
Work to install sprinklers will begin on the fifth floor, then move progressively down to the fourth and third floors.
If money remains, the work could continue on to the second and first floors, Stewart said. "Once the main waterlines are in place, the rest of the work should be less costly," he said.