It was late afternoon on March 2, 2012 when the tornado touched down in Henryville, Ind. Storms had been battering the middle of the country, and several people had already been reported dead. Hail the size of golf balls was falling from the sky.
Now a twister came roaring in at 170 miles per hour (273.6 km/hr.) and struck Henryville Junior and Senior High School, the only school site for all elementary, middle, and high school students in the small town.
At first there were reports that some people were trapped inside the school, but luckily that turned out not to be true. That’s because all of the school’s 1,200 students had been dismissed earlier that day due to the severe weather watch.
But once the storms had cleared, the building was decimated. There was roof, structural steel, drywall, and brick damage and the doors and windows were blown out. Huge chunks of the roof were missing, which meant there was no place for all the students in town to go to school.
Enter the team from Insulated Roofing Contractors. The company, based in New Albany, Ind., was hired to repair the roof on the school.
“In some areas, the roof was completely gone,” said Josh McKain, the marketing director for Insulated Roofing Contractors. “In other areas, it was damaged pretty badly. It looked terrible.” And there was a tight deadline to get the job done.
School was still in session, and students had nowhere to go. For a short time, students were sent to nearby schools, but that was a solution that could not last long, McKain said. “The other schools didn’t necessarily have the capacity,” he said. “It wasn’t a great situation with the other schools, but it worked while it had to.”
Insulated Roofing Contractors offered some key advantages — they were local and they had the manpower needed to get the job done quickly. “We were capable of getting 50 people up on the roof, which they needed because the job had to be rushed so quickly,” McKain said. “We had a combination of being able to get there quickly and get a lot of people there quickly.”
Insulated Roofing Contractors landed the job and began work right away. Throughout the entire four-month project they were under a time crunch.
They began by removing any part of the roof that was still remaining to clear the roof surface. Because the school consisted of two separate buildings — one for the elementary school and one for the junior and senior high school — there was a combination of different kinds of roofing materials of varying ages. That meant all the roofing needed to be removed and replaced, including the poured gypsum roof deck underneath the roof deck that the crew also removed.
The tear-out was a bit of a challenge, McKain said, because “it wasn’t like a regular clean roof that you can tear out in stages. It was a disaster scene.”
After removing the old materials, the crew installed a new 22 gauge metal roof deck, which they then covered with insulation board. “The condition was great because the building was largely reconstructed for this project,” McKain said.
The school was large, which meant a lot of roof to cover — 118,000 square feet (10,962.6 m²) to be exact. Much of the school’s building was also demolished and reconstructed before the roof was installed, McKain said. “The roof also had to be completed before the inside of the building could be worked on, creating an additional time constraint,” he said.
The crew put down Progressive Materials SF 4228 spray polyurethane foam (SPF) at a 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) thickness in one pass, followed by Progressive Materials LS 2200 series silicone coating at 25 mils (635 microns), also in one pass.
Insulated Roofing Contractors uses equipment manufactured in-house because of special needs its crews have on other jobs, McKain said. “So they get the exact performance they want,” he said. “A lot of machines struggle to get coating through 500 to 600 feet [152.4 to 182.9 m] of hose to get pressure at the tip.”
While this job did not require that length of hose, McKain said they still used their in-house equipment. “The team makes a lot of different parts,” he said. “They’re sort of their own machine.”
To get the job done quickly, McKain needed a big crew. He also needed to fit as many as 18 people on the roof at one time.
Luckily, the school building was big enough to accommodate everyone. “It’s a pretty huge roof,” McKain said. But he had a supervisor up on the roof at all times to keep an eye on all the people working there.
The crew followed normal Occupational Safety and Health Administration practices for the project, including using DBI/Sala Safety Equipment harnesses and setting up a warning line system 6 feet (1.8 m) from the edge of the roof.
The crew was tied off anytime they were outside of the warning line system using a full body harness, lanyard, and self-retracting lifeline. They also used either an AES Raptor Mobile Safety Device or installed temporary fall protection anchors into the roof. Additionally, full-face masks and protection were also used during the spray foam application.
Back to School
Four months later, the job was finished. McKain said it looked great. “The roof is now sort of a hybrid,” he said. “Some of the roof still had the metal deck on it, but 80 percent of the roof has foam now. It’s just a nice gray coating on top.”
Even better, the finished job meant the students of Henryville could return to their own school.