Knox County courthouse fire escape expected to begin repairs next week

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Repairs to the Knox County Courthouse’s fire escape will begin next week after the county board has worked for months to find a way to make repairs without removing the fire escape.

Building Committee Chairman Greg “Chops” Bacon says removal was a no-go since it would leave the building without a fire escape but all companies that were putting in bids required removal.

However, in January, Fire Escape Services of Chicago came forward saying they could mend the escape by removing every other stair tread keeping it operational during the process.

The company estimates their work will take 7-10 days.

County Board Chair Brian Friedrich has called a special full board meeting for this Thursday to get approval of the agreement with Fire Escape Services so work can start promptly.

Cody Basham of Klinger & Associates says that if the company can’t start repairs next week then they’ll have to wait until May or later and prices would increase by 10 to 15 percent.

And Bacon tells WGIL the repair has been a long time coming.

“We’ve been trying to pursue this for a couple of years, and it’s finally coming out,” Bacon says. “I’m tickled to death.”

The price of the package Basham recommended to board members costs $118,900 and includes a 15 year structural warranty. 

The estimated cost to entirely replace the fire escape would be about $500,000, something that might have been necessary had this offer not come to fruition.

The county will also pay Basham to make visits to supervise the company as they work.

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