Sprinklers failed during last week’s fire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Fire sprinklers could have prevented the May 22 blaze that gutted a 130,000-square-foot factory in Columbiana – had they worked.

The state fire marshall’s office is expected to release results from an on-site investigation this week. The fire destroyed most of the Summer Classics patio furniture factory in Columbiana.

Randy Rivers, vice president of operations for Summer Classics, said Tuesday that the company was still awaiting results from the fire investigation.

Last Tuesday, officials from the Alabama Fire Marshall’s Office conducted an exit briefing at the site of the blaze before finishing the on-site investigation.

Officials said the fire might have resulted partially from faulty fire sprinklers in the factory. Summer Classics may face a fine for not maintaining functioning sprinklers.

Johnny Howard, chief of the Columbiana Volunteer Fire Department, said Tuesday he knew the sprinklers in the factory did not work.

&uot;I know the sprinklers didn’t activate,&uot; he said.

Howard said he was waiting on a report from the fire marshall’s office.

Work Resumes

Despite the fire, all 45 employees from the Summer Classics facility are still receiving paychecks.

Summer Classics’ spokesman Jamie Warren said Monday the company is hoping to relocate most of the employees from its Columbiana facility to a new location in Montevallo.

The Summer Classics headquarters and distribution center is located on County Road 25 in Montevallo.

Last week, Warren said the company leased additional space in Montevallo at a separate location about five miles away.

Summer Classics staff salvaged what it could from the Columbiana facility, and a shipment of new equipment is expected this week.

Warren said the company will employ a six day per week, overtime work schedule in an effort to catch up on furniture orders.

Some employees from the Columbiana factory worked last week, performing odd jobs and maintenance work at other Summer Classics facilities.

&uot;The company wanted to get them back to work as soon as possible,&uot; Warren said.