Montgomery County, TX -- Bear Branch Junior High wants to add locker rooms and a band hall. However, the Fire Marshal is blocking their addition because they do not want to add fire sprinklers to the school. Did we mention the school had a fire in December?
According to code, if an addition is added to an existing school, the school must add fire sprinklers to the whole building, not just the addition. Bear Branch Junior High submitted plans to the Fire Marshal's office on September 8, but they were rejected because the plan had no fire sprinklers.
The Executive Director of Facilities Tom Bruner is arguing that the school shouldn't be forced to get fire sprinklers (let's just remind you, they had a FIRE IN DECEMBER). Bruner doesn't believe there is a law or mandate mandating fire sprinklers in the existing building.
"That building meet the fire codes for the time in which it was built, which is typical of any type of commercial or school development that you'll find across the state of Texas. We have upgraded several times since that building was built, [including] the fire alarm system to bring it up to the current standards," said Bruner.
Fire Marshal Williams said any additions would not move forward without adding fire sprinklers to the entire building. "The bottom line is they're not going to be able to add on to or renovate that building if the district does not include sprinkler," Williams said.
Texas adapted the national NFPA code. It states that schools must retrofit their older buildings with fire sprinklers when performing certain construction projects.
Here's Bruner's argument: "How can we sprinkler Bear Branch Junior High and not sprinkler every building in the district? You have to look at quity across the district. What makes that school more special than the other ones?" Okay...
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