Following issues concerning fireproofing at Friendswood ISD’s new Performing Arts Center at Friendswood High School, officials from both the district and the city of Friendswood have confirmed they are working toward a solution.

This comes after recent inspections the Friendswood Fire Marshal conducted at the PAC, which is undergoing construction. The inspection revealed the building did not meet the fire code that was agreed upon with the city of Friendswood.

The overview

The PAC has been undergoing construction since spring 2022 and is expected to be completed later this spring, FISD Superintendent Thad Roher said in an email April 1.

Before construction began in 2022, both city and district officials agreed upon an approved, permitted planset, which included a fireproofing component.

Friendswood City Manager Morad Kabiri said in an email the contractor did not comply with the original plan, which was discovered during routine inspections by the city’s fire marshal. This contradicts statements originally made by the contractor at a FISD school board meeting on March 4.

To fix the deficiency, Roher said in an email the district will continue to adjust to meet the fire code based on the direction they have received from the Fire Marshal’s office.

What it means

A plan sheet for the PAC, which was provided by the city, shows the requirements agreed upon by the district and the city.

Based on the planset, the PAC requires one hour of fire resistance in several different areas of the structure, according to documents from the city. Kabiri clarified on April 4 those requirements can be done through methods such as spray-on, or paint. Those requirements include:
  • The primary structural frame
  • Bearing walls on both the interior and exterior
  • Nonbearing walls on both the interior and exterior
  • Floor and roof as well as other associated areas

Kabiri also said, as of the recent inspection, the contractor had not met any of the one-hour requirements. However, with this being an ongoing construction project, it’s possible many of these items have been addressed since the original comments were made March 4.

How we got here

At the March 4 board meeting, to find a solution, Greg Prince, an architect for PBK, which is overseeing the construction at FISD, reached out to multiple sources to ensure the fire safety at Friendswood High School’s PAC is satisfactory.

He said at the board’s meeting he reached out to the International Code Council, an organization with building safety professionals, and the council’s fire protection engineers to see how a fire would act in this building.

One of the main concerns within the district was the time of the results of this inspection, as the project is expected to be near completion soon.

“The reason there’s a complication is because of the timing of it,” Prince said at the meeting. “Originally when this building was permitted over two years ago, those [fireproofing] comments weren’t there, so now that we have the comments with the Performing Arts Center nearing completion, the ability of the contractor to go back and add that fireproofing is exponentially more difficult.”

Kabiri has noted that fireproofing has always been a requirement for the PAC.

“As noted in the plan sheet for the High School Project, the Performing Arts Center has a fireproofing requirement,” Kabiri said in an email. “City staff is currently working with [Roher] and the architect in securing an alternative solution. However, the fireproofing requirement is not new.”

Stay tuned

While FISD and the city of Friendswood are seeking alternative solutions, Roher said the district will meet the requirements to provide safe buildings for the district’s community.

“The fire marshal's office has been out to review fireproofing in other areas to be sure with the building code,” Roher said in an email. “FISD, PBK and the contractor are working closely with them to meet code in all other areas still under construction so that schedules will not be affected. All new buildings and renovations in FISD will meet the fire code per the Friendswood Fire Marshal's office upon completion to assure students, parents and staff safe and innovative new places to learn and grow.”