County mulls best way to clean Justice Center ducts

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A 25-year buildup of dirt and grime in the Flathead County Justice Center’s heating-and-cooling system ducts and vents got the county commissioners’ attention on Thursday.

Parks and Recreation Director Jed Fisher, who also oversees building maintenance, described the condition of the ductwork as “filthy” and said it’s in the best interest of the employees and the public to get a handle on the problem.

There’s only one local company that can handle such industrial-sized cleaning jobs, though, he said, and that firm quoted Fisher $45,000 to clean all of the Justice Center’s duct-work. The county already has spent $6,000 to clean ducts and vents in the kitchen area that serves the jail.

The kitchen system was so clogged it was causing the heating and cooling systems to decay, Fisher said.

He told the commissioners it would make sense for the county to buy its own super-powerful vacuum equipment. After making inquiries, he found a company that would supply two cleaning units for $22,000.

If the county owned its own equipment, ductwork in all county buildings could be cleaned periodically.

“It should be done every couple years,” Fisher said, suggesting the cleaning equipment could be used at facilities such as Gateway Community Center, too. “I don’t want to take business away locally, but it makes good business sense to own our own powerful vacuums.”

The commissioners agreed to consider Fisher’s recommendation but took no action.

“We know the rest of that building [Justice Center] needs cleaning,” Commissioner Dale Lauman said.

“Cleaning ventilation systems is something you don’t think about until something goes wrong,” he said. “And vents can harbor a lot of dust and germs. It’s something we’ll have to weigh in on.”

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com

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