Table of Contents
Thanks to Houston Fire Department, Fire Wasn't Worse
A rapid response and hard work by the Houston Fire Department prevented serious injury and catastrophic damage from a three-alarm fire Saturday morning, Feb. 17, in the Replacement Research Facility (RRF) and adjacent Medical School Building at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
When the fire broke out, about 40 construction workers were in the RRF and a small number of students, research personnel and faculty were in the Medical School.
“Over 20 Houston Fire Department units responded to the alarm and the fire was quickly extinguished in about 30 minutes,” said UT Health Science Center President James T. Willerson, M.D., in a letter to Houston Mayor Bill White. “Thanks to the swift actions of the Fire Department, only two minor injuries occurred and the Medical School suffered only minor smoke and water damage.”
The entire Medical School Building was closed temporarily for clean-up and damage assessment. By Sunday afternoon, Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management pronounced the building clear of smoke and ready to open as usual.
Fast incident response and speedy remediation enabled faculty, staff and students to “return to the Medical School as regularly scheduled with no interruption of normal duties or academic classes – a tremendous cost savings to the university,” the president said.
In a letter to Houston Fire Chief Phil Boriskie, Dr. Willerson said, “We are deeply indebted to all of you and thank you again for doing your job and doing it well.”
At press time, the cause of the fire was still undetermined. The damage in the RRF occurred on the fifth floor and in the interstitial support space above that floor. Damage to the Medical School was on the third through seventh floors, plus the air handler units in the penthouse had to be cleaned.
Vaughn Construction manages the Replacement Research Facility. Before the fire, the six-story research building was scheduled for completion this fall. It is not yet known whether the fire will be a major setback to the construction schedule.
Previous story Next story