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Case Study 5 Revisited

"Civic Centre Carlisle"

From the first audit I made it clear that the building was at risk from catastrophic secondary damage. I emphasised the risk not the catastrophe. The flood waters submerged the basement and rose to approximately five feet on the ground floor, the picture shows a tide mark some four feet high but you can estimate the true depth by adding a few steps as seen on the right of the picture.

My question is how wet do you think the building is and how much equipment would you need to dry quickly to enable repair, resumption of business and claim closure.

If you said none for three weeks and then just one machine you would be in line with the claim management team. This is what was on site during my second inspection on Thursday 9th February 2005.

Flood line, 4 steps above pavement! Remember the whole of the basement, engineering services, and storage was submerged!

Please note:The following review does not predict:
  • More secondary damage,
  • Toxic mould
  • Destruction of organic materials
  • Odour
  • Hygiene or Sanitation problems
  • Latent damage claims
  • Concerns regarding unnecessary delays in claim closure
  • Liability issues
  • Dissatisfied client
  • Dissatisfied townsfolk
But the review does emphasise the unnecessary increased risk!

This is the view of the Civic Assembly Chamber 8th January By the 10th Feb only 1 piece of drying equipment had been installed, one 2 KW electric fire!

No equipment seen in the Assembly Chamber or library committee rooms (Link building) in over 4 weeks! Only the tower block had any drying installed.

This is the ground floor of the round assembly chamber. Walls have been stripped, floor and building envelope saturated. No drying equipment installed, uncontrolled evaporation, doors open to both main tower and link building. The humidity is so great it is forming on the windows even with doors open!

The photo below shows the assembly hall directly above the previous photo.

The chamber is high quality wood and leather and is on two floors, Photo taken from the upper gallery. The circle shows the use of one 2 KW electric heater. The only controls in the entire building. Is there a risk of mould? Is this apathy?

Can this really be seen as claim management in 2005?

The Building Recovery

The council official apparently in charge of this building recovery initially asked for my proposals for drying the building on Jan 26th. He understood controls I recommended. He was apologetic when the Insurer installed a nominated contractor the following day.(Three weeks after the flood) On Feb 9th he asked if I could attend site as he was concerned at the drying progress. I attended site at approximately 16:00 where he was meeting with the insurance company claims team. I suggested I undertook a quick building assessment to identify any shortfalls in the drying program, which we could discuss with them.

The following information was gathered in 30 minutes.

The heating was now fully operational although no ventilation was operating.

Only one propane heater/dryer was installed for the whole building complex which consisted of three linked buildings. (see first photo) Tower block, library, conference facility which is the 2 floor link building connecting to the round Assembly Chamber.

The first floor offices now fully operational had a relative humidity of 63% @ 20c which gave the air the ability to carry almost 010 kg/kg of moisture. A clear warning was the condensation which had to be wiped of windows constantly. Secondary damage now occurring. Mould most likely

The Drying Protocol

Although two drying machines were initially installed on or around the 28th of Jan one was removed a few days later to undertake a drying job in a restaurant over the road. Therefore only one piece of drying equipment was seen in the entire complex on Thursday 10th Feb and that was struggling to create incoming air at 35%rh @ 22c a pitiful .006 kg/kg and was being used to dry a single room on the ground floor of the main building, the tower block.
This was poorly set up with the dry air supply within 2 meters of the extract and with the nearest air movement directing the dry air supply towards the extract. One of the hoses from the machine to the building had fallen off and another collapsed. The air being forced in was unfortunately wetter than ambient.

Dry incoming air being blown in vortex towards extract! Not very efficient!

This picture tells a story on its own. The deflated polythene tubing is believed to be from the disconnected supply from the trailer mounted dryer in the following pictures The plastic now deflated has caused a vapour barrier and condensation can be seen underneath. This is a very good visual on just how wet the building is. When can the council relay floors? How unnecessary is this delay? The drying program and controls should have been installed weeks ago!

The ventilation ductwork and AHU located in the basement had been submerged. The risk of standing water within the ventilation ductwork, drip trays etc must be considered as a potential health risk from legionella. Mould may have formed on dirt and filter cellulose material, and some bio amplification due to moisture, warming air and dirt, contamination from flood water must be a consideration.

It may be a surprise that no decontamination was undertaken and although the ventilation system was not operating it did link all parts of the building via ductwork to the contaminated flood areas. As warm air is known to rise, (stack effect) coupled to laminar air flow through open vents, doors, it must be assumed that contamination will travel through this vector agent.

This may, and again the emphasis is on risk not prediction, result in a variety of possibly health risks including a legionella outbreak. See CEOs responsibility for nominated contractor/employee.

High level ductwork above flood level but see condensation on windows and obviously will form internally as duct is and not insulted, note the duct end is not sealed (circle) and will transport contamination throughout building when air movement, doors, windows are moved.

This is a duct at soffit level in the basement, previously totally submerged in black water. The whole system is contaminated and may contain standing water. A serious legionella risk! See debris on lips of duct. Consider the biological growth potential in that sodden filter or debris within the ducting.

A possible criminal liability and responsibility for the insurer who nominated the claim management company. Corporate manslaughter charges could be brought against those in charge of this project (Insurer CEO ) if a fatality occurred. Fatalities do occur in legionella outbreaks. Has a suitable risk assessment been undertaken or is the health of several thousand people entering the building down to luck?

The flooding could not be prevented. The re occupancy of the building without competent risk assessments or controls may be indefensible.

Following this survey (requested 30 minutes previously) I reported to the council official who had for some time been discussing problems and possibly my involvement with the Insurance claim team. I attempted to report to the official but he apologised profusely and said that the Insurers claim team had said if he didn’t follow what they said they may not be responsible for the outcome.

I felt that the situation at these offices was at a critical stage and insisted in informing him of the danger from heating the building without any form of dehumidification or ventilation. He said they open windows. The following photo shows how many were open. Three!


Turn up the heating, close the windows.

Could there be a better example of claims incompetence?

Is this a reasonable criticism, have you seen anything worse?

An audit I undertook for a major insurance company showed an alarming 70% of claims were overcharged, damage allowed to escalate or scope drift was evident!

This photo shows additional ductwork which was underwater but not sealed or disconnected? Cold air entering the building, causing dew point and resultant condensation resulting in unnecessary secondary damage? Bio risk?

This photo shows a trailer mounted system poorly installed with a collapsed hose, top, and disconnected hose bottom. The windows are not sealed either allowing cold air to enter the drying area which may result in additional cold spots and dew point being reached locally. Condensation and mould potential.

As I said in the previous audit, contractors and suppliers may have explanation for items identified in this report.

This is not a witch hunt. No contractors will be identified

Can anyone honestly say things couldn’t be better?

Money and time are misspent. The resources are there.
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