BAMC’s Skylight Resuscitated
Brooks Army Medical Center (BAMC) is the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest medical center and only Level One Trauma Center. Providing safe, quality care to our military service members, their families, veterans and civilian emergency patients, this sits as the most robust and productive healthcare organization within the Military Health System. Located on Fort Sam Houston Army Post, Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) BAMC is a 425-bed Academic Medical Center and is home to the Center for the Intrepid, an outpatient rehabilitation facility.
The skylight in the lobby of the medical center was built 25 years ago. A 2019 summer storm rolled into San Antonio bringing high winds and hail. The wind caught the corner of the skylight at BAMC ripping some of the panels off the building. Chamberlin was contacted to provide a temporary fix for the portions of the skylight where panels were missing. After all damages were assessed, a full replacement was recommended. Chamberlin was awarded the job to replace the skylight at BAMC under general contractor JG Contracting.
Field measurements were taken to allow the manufacturer, Kingspan, to start production. Once the panels arrived on site in January 2021, each skylight was lifted individually onto the roof by crane. A schedule was created to maximize productivity while keeping the building sealed and minimizing disruption to the hospital.
Crews removed a certain number of existing panels each night and installed permanent panels. Where permanent panels met existing panels, a temporary seal was used until additional permanent panels were installed during the next work shift. Communication and coordination were key elements of this plan.
Keeping Safety Sky High
BAMC was operating at Fort Sam Houston for the duration of the project so keeping the hospital personnel and patients safewas a top priority. The skylight is located 80 to 90 feet over the main lobby of the hospital. Part of the solution for working on the skylight in a high traffic area and getting the job completed safely was to work overnight from 5pm to 3am. During this time, the lobby was shut down. All entrances were barricaded with warning and directional signage to re-route foot traffic. Keeping the lobby clear mitigated the possibility of someone getting injured if something were to fall from the open skylight. All furniture had to be moved daily and covered with tarps.
Keeping the crew safe on this job was also a primary focus, and special consideration was given to work performed on a roof that had an open skylight at times. Chamberlin began by developing a site-specific safety plan for the project, and the superintendent communicated the plan to all crew members.
A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) was also developed for this project which covered each task on the job, potential hazards associated with those tasks and how to prevent those hazards from causing an accident. The superintendent reviewed it with crew members each evening before work began.
All equipment was inspected daily by a competent person before use. Personal protective equipment was always worn, and Chamberlin’s zero tolerance fall protection policy was in place as every crew member had to be tied off while working on the skylight. Weekly toolbox talks were held covering pertinent safety topics and reinforcing Chamberlin’s safety policies and procedures.
In the Waiting Room
The project began at the end of January in 2021, and shortly after the crews were delayed due to weather. Two weeks into February of 2021 a winter snowstorm and freeze began. During this time it was unsafe for the crew to work on the roof due to snow and ice. Additionally, no materials would cure properly in that low of temperature. After a week, the crew could get back on site and resume work.
The project went smoothly after the freeze. With portions of the skylight being open at times and lowered visibility due to working at night, clear skies were a must for this project. The eight-man crew installed 144 panels in all. This included 72 clear panels on the inside and 72 white panels as the finish on top.
Doctoring up the Skylight
Teamwork was essential to getting the 45-foot skylight panels to the upper level of the roof. The panels were first moved by crane to the lower roof level, where they were tied down and stored. Then they were moved by hand to the upper level via secured ladders. Every crew member had a vital role to play in making sure the panels were safely hoisted to the upper roof without any damage.
The crew demolished and installed eight new panels per night including the top and bottom sections. One crew member worked ahead, focused on the demolition and installation of the perimeter tracks while the other seven crew members followed behind working on the panels. After removal, the old panels were hoisted down the ladder to the lower level. A crane was then used to lower them to the ground. Dow 795 silicone sealant was used to caulk the jambs at cast stone, and Carlisle WIP 300HT under sheet metal flashing was used at the sills. The crew was able to install both the interior and exterior panels from the outside.
Chamberlin’s attention to detail and expertise gained from decades of roofing and waterproofing experience helped them successfully replace BAMC’s sizable skylight on schedule, in less than five months, with zero safety incidents. The team found solutions to deliver high-quality installations on an operational building and keep it watertight throughout despite the nature of the project.