Fire, burst pipe at high school may hike Pittsfield’s insurance rate


This story has been modified to correct the amount of damage caused by an electrical fire in February.

PITTSFIELD — Two unexpected problems at Pittsfield High School in the past month will likely mean an increase to the city's property and casualty insurance. 

Several classrooms and the main office of the school will be closed for at least seven weeks as a result of water damage caused by a broken water line last week.

The lessons and administrative work continue in other areas of the building, Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless said.

Phone calls placed to the school may occasionally be disrupted, he said, asking for the community's patience in the interim.

"The classes have all been relocated and teaching and learning are going on as usual," he wrote in an email.

The school was closed last Monday because of the broken pipe. And an electrical fire caused at least $300,000 in damages to a section of the building in February.

The city, which maintains school buildings, will file an insurance claim for the damages. The cost of the damages are still being determined.

Matthew Kerwood, city finance director, declined to estimate the cost of the repairs. But he said he does expect the city's Fiscal 2018 insurance cost to be higher as a result of those claims and a few others.

"We do expect we will see a rate increase" from the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, he said.

One classroom on the third floor, three on the second floor and the main office were impacted by water damage.

A third floor window was left open in a supply closet, which caused a water supply line to freeze. The water pipe froze and burst and was discovered by a custodian March 12. James Esoldi, city working foreman said it is believed to have leaked for 10 to 12 hours.

The city's maintenance department is responsible for the upkeep of Pittsfield school buildings and is overseeing the remediation of some asbestos and the repairs from the water damage.

Pittsfield High School was built in early 1930s when asbestos was commonly used in some aspects of construction.

"All work is being done in accordance with local, state and federal regulations pertaining to asbestos abatement," Esoldi said.

American Environmental Contractors is handling the asbestos remediation, which does not take place while school is in session. That remediation began last weekend and is expected to be completed this weekend, Esoldi said.

Once remediation work is completed repairs from the water damage will begin. Esoldi said the six-week timeline for the water repairs, which will be conducted by independent contractors, is estimated.

Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo.


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