Emergency Projects

What do you do when part of your building is burnt to a crisp or when extreme rain causes flood damage to the school building?

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Bids, approvals, construction and all the necessary steps that go into fixing a project like this can take a long time that these kinds of high use buildings don’t have. To combat these problems The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has developed a streamlined review process to allow Districts, and their Architects, to react quickly when dealing with these sorts of projects. This process allows the District’s Board of Education to declare a “Local Emergency” project, which can then be submitted and reviewed by NYSED expeditiously, allowing for quicker resolution for these time sensitive issues. These projects encompass a variety of situations, and require different approaches than a normal Capital Improvements Project.

After an incident of arson which had completely burnt out the Home and Careers room of a building dating to the 1930’s, the school was closed for several days while law enforcement investigated the crime Once the building was cleared by law enforcement our architects were able to jump in and evaluate what was left of the room. The interior contents had been completely consumed by the fire, and the exterior aluminum framed windows were reduced to molten “Hershey’s Kiss” like droplets. Our structural engineering consultant was dispatched to determine if the intense heat of the fire had compromised the structural integrity of the building (fortunately, in this case, it had not). Abatement consultants determined that toxic materials had been disturbed and released as due to the fire. As the room was burning, the building’s ductwork carried smoke and debris throughout the building, damaging the other rooms on that floor.

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With the opening of school for the year only weeks away the entire interior of the space (equipment, furnishings, finish materials) had to be documented and detailed for immediate reconstruction. A significant effort was undertaken by a variety of dedicated professionals including: emergency services, the District’s personnel, our team, the team at NYSED and the contractors all of whom worked diligently to complete this project. We are happy to say that school did open on time, with only minor inconveniences to the District’s students and staff.

Another example of an emergency project involved a severe flooding emergency at Sharon Springs Central School District. A 100 year storm, combined with the natural water retention issues of the region, resulted in a flood that damaged a significant portion of the District’s K-12 building. Emergency cleanup professionals were called to provide immediate “drying-out” measures. Our team mobilized immediately to determine the extent of the damage to the remaining building infrastructure. The wood floor in the gymnasium was submerged during the flood, requiring areas of the existing floor to be opened, and mechanical drying equipment used to pull as much moisture out as possible to avoid any warping and cupping that might occur in the wood planking.

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Additionally mechanical consultants and abatement consultants were employed to determine the extent of damage to the classroom unit ventilator, and the electrical outlets, and to make sure there was no mold in the remaining structure. The floor finishes were replaced (after the substrate returned to an acceptable relative humidity level), and the wall finishes were reconstructed, with the corridor walls reinforced with an abuse board wainscot in the areas damaged. Once again, everyone pulled together, and worked diligently to ensure that the building was returned to service in a timely manner, ensuring the educational program was interrupted as little as possible.

Other emergency issues over the years have involved Roof Damage due to storm and hail impact, emergency improvements to Fire-Resistive elements to bring them into current code compliance, and emergency replacement of water mains that had begun to dislodge themselves and potentially could result in flooding.

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Each of these incidents have their own specific set of concerns that must be addressed, however, the common thread with all of them is that time is of the essence, and the necessity of quick, flexible action on the part of everyone involved is vital to their successful resolution. Particularly in the case of Public School Clients, the necessity of maintaining a safe and secure learning environment is always of paramount concern Teitsch-Kent-Fay Architects, P.C. and our team have been pleased and proud to be a part of these solutions, and look forward to continuing to serve our clients on these important projects.