Shortly after 9:30 a.m., Capitol Police issued a campus-wide email reporting an “audible alarm” in the CVC and instructed visitors and staff to evacuate immediately.
Tunnels connecting House and Senate office buildings to the Capitol were temporarily closed off, and officers guarded certain entrances.
But Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said a little before 10:30 a.m. that the CVC was reopening to staffers first, then to the public.
Schneider told Roll Call that while the alarm led to evacuation orders, there were “no signs of smoke, fire, etc.”
She added that an initial investigation indicated that construction work at the site might have set off the alarm.
The Architect of the Capitol’s spokeswoman did not return requests for comment by press time regarding what construction work might have caused the disruption.
However, a Capitol Police officer told Roll Call that the alarm was triggered when stonemasons were steam cleaning the walls of the CVC’s lower level. Steam erroneously entered one of the pull stations containing a fire alarm, which shorted the system, the officer said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.