Report blames 'design flaw' for Farrington High roof collapse

Image source: DOE
Image source: DOE
Image source: DOE
Image source: DOE

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A report by the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) has found that a design flaw in Farrington High School's 58-year-old auditorium contributed to its roof collapse on Nov. 23, 2012.

The report by structural engineers from Kai Hawaii found that one of the steel trusses that created the roof framing was inadequately designed to support the loads that a normal truss would – in addition to a light balcony attached to that truss. The balcony, which was used to mount and access lights to illuminate the stage, also consisted of a metal deck cantilevered perpendicularly to Truss 2 (second from the stage).

The light balcony almost doubled the truss' vertical load capacity, the report says. A 40-foot section of the auditorium roof collapsed in a brief but heavy afternoon downpour. The report stated, "The unique weather conditions of heavy wind and rain on the day of the collapse appear to have pushed the truss beyond its ultimate capacity." No one was in that area of the auditorium at the time.

None of the DOE's existing buildings have been designed or built by the same companies used in the construction of Farrington's auditorium, according to an initial review.

"As a precautionary measure, the DOE is conducting inspections of public school auditoriums built around the same time as Farrington's," said Raymond L'Heureux, assistant superintendent for school facilities and support services.

These structures include auditoriums at Kaimuki High, McKinley High, Roosevelt High, Central Intermediate, Kawananakoa Middle, Castle High, Pearl City High, Wheeler Intermediate, Hilo High, Honokaa High & Intermediate, and Baldwin High.

The report also found that the Farrington auditorium is "structurally sound," and can be rebuilt rather than be torn down.

"We will assess what is most fiscally manageable in rebuilding or building a sound structure that will work best for Farrington's needs," added Assistant Superintendent L'Heureux.

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