Homes and Communities Agency
Partial demolition of Fire damaged West Bromwich Institute, West Bromwich City CentreConnell Brothers were appointed by the HCA to carry out the partial demolition of a fire damaged school in Sandwell, West Bromwich.
The area affected by the fire comprised a number of offices and a theatre. The structure comprised brick walls with a timber truss and slate roof. There were a number of service tunnels beneath the building which were found to contain asbestos materials.
Adjacent to the site was a car park used by the neighbouring properties. Demolition was carried out in specific stages to ensure safe removal of asbestos materials and to maintain the structural integrity of the remaining building.
Initial works involved the removal of the asbestos materials contained within the tunnel to the front of the building. This tunnel was accessed from an external door within the car park and was accessible to just beyond the demolition line. Once the asbestos materials were removed to this point a new block wall was constructed within the tunnel to seal the remaining section off from the demolition works to ensure any other asbestos material around the service pipes within the remaining tunnel remained undisturbed. During the initial works a large number of items were removed from the fabric of the building to be stored and reused in future building works.
Demolition of the first section was then carried out by initially undertaking hand separation works and providing additional propping to retained roof sections. New temporary weatherproof gable walls were constructed using timber any polythene to prevent any further structural damage. The first section of the building was then demolished by an excavator as shown in the drawing above.
Prior to commencing stage two demolition investigation works were undertaken to the office areas (shown shaded above) and a basement area with service tunnel was discovered. The service area contained a large amount of furniture and other debris which were removed via an external door into the adjoining car park. The service tunnel was found to contain pipework lagged with asbestos containing materials and these required removal prior to demolition taking place.
Once the area was certified as asbestos free stage, two demolition could commence. A scaffold was erected to the neighbour’s car park to allow the external wall to be reduced by hand prior to mechanical demolition. Demolition of the offices to the rear of the theatre was then carried out with care taken to avoid disturbing the fire damaged roof trusses to the theatre or the perimeter walling.
Once this section had been completed the service tunnel and basement areas were backfilled with site won material to enable the excavator to demolish the theatre section as part of the phase three works.
Stage three demolition required the removal of the fire damaged roof trusses and the reduction in height of the theatre walls. This was carried out using a combination of operatives using hand held tools and a mobile elevated work platform and a high reach demolition excavator. This also required the removal of a large amount of material from the floor of the theatre that had fallen from the roof during the fire.
Once completed the doorways to the remaining structure were sealed using block work. A polythene membrane was placed on the ground and backfilled with selected demolition materials. The walls to the theatre were protected using timber battens to secure heavy duty polythene sheeting to the walls. The polythene was then lapped over the walls and the top of the wall parged with sand and cement to provide a weatherproof finish.
The above photographs show the extent of the fire damage to the theatre together with the protection works installed to the retained building and examples of the demolition and finishing works rrequired.
This challenging project required a high leval of detailed supervision on site and a rapid response to constantly changing requirements as a result of the number of unknowns discovered as the works progressed.