DFW Brick Council and Texas Masonry Council

Romeo DFW BDC 2014 chkRudy Garza, Executive Vice President of the Texas Masonry Council and Romeo Collazo, Chairman of the Texas Masonry Council Board stopped by the February Meeting to update us what is happening with Masonry Ordinances in North Texas and in the world of the Texas Masonry Council. The DFW Brick Council presented them with a check to contribute to the furthering of their work. It’s always good to see the progress that the Texas Masonry Council is continuing to make for the masonry industry in North Texas.

Frisco Supports the Sustainability of Masonry

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Rudy Garcia with the Texas Masonry Council spoke at the April meeting of the DFW Brick Council

More than 170 Texas cities have adopted minimum requirements for masonry on the exteriors of new construction. A new interactive map  shows the locations of many of these cities.  One such community is the fast-growing city of Frisco, north of Dallas.

Frisco Mayor Maher Maso, an information technology entrepreneur, says Frisco always has excelled at long-term planning and policies that support sustainability.  That mindset led officials to consider and ultimately adopt masonry planning.  In focusing on sustainability, Frisco officials saw it as a proverbial three-legged stool with legs of safety, durability, and  aesthetics. The Frisco Fire Department, which is ISO 1 certified, emphasized the safety benefits of masonry construction.

Officials also were swayed by the durability, low-maintenance, and aesthetic characteristics of masonry. Frisco planners and elected officials recognized that many new buildings look good for a while, but the real test is how they will look in 10, 20, or 30 years.

“As neighborhoods age,” Maso said, “what’s the best material to withstand the test of time? What requires the least maintenance? All the signs pointed to masonry… Just about everything we’ve built has had sustainability in mind.”  Garza said, “Texas has a rich history of building with long-lasting masonry products. Masonry is part of the Texas heritage, and by embracing masonry planning, local officials and civic leaders, such as those in Frisco, are helping to build a strong legacy for their communities.“

Research has shown that masonry (brick, stone, concrete block) provides greater protection against fire, and windstorms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, than non-masonry siding products.  In addition, other research has shown that masonry requirements result in: 1) higher overall property values; 2) growth in the tax base, lessening the tax burden on residents; 3) continued population and housing growth, and 4) no significant impact on affordability for either renters or buyers of housing.

To find out if your city is protected from storms and fire by a masonry ordinance visit the map. If your city is not protected, e-mail Rudy Garza

Joplin Tornado Offers Lessons for Texas Cities

New Hospital to have Masonry Exterior for Safety and Appearance

(Article Submitted by the Texas Masonry Council)

As spring weather ushers in tornado season in Texas, Missouri health care executive John Farnen has two words of advice: harden exteriors.

Farnen speaks from experience. On May 22, 2011, one of the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded ripped through Joplin, MO, killing 162 people, including one visitor and five critical-care patients at St. John’s Regional Medical Center. The hospital’s structural skeleton remained standing after the storm but the rest of it was ripped to shreds. The facility was a total loss.

As executive director of strategic projects for Mercy Health Systems, owner of the hospital and the sixth largest Catholic health system in America, Farnen has the job of analyzing the catastrophe and applying the lessons learned to the construction of the new $350-million replacement hospital, renamed Mercy Hospital Joplin.  During the tornado, the building’s exterior covering and windows failed to withstand the wind and debris of the tornado.  The hospital’s exterior at that time was mostly glass, some metal panels, with precast concrete on the main hospital with some exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS), a lightweight synthetic cladding meant to look like stucco. There was also EIFS on the adjacent office buildings. EIFS was popular in Texas until problems with black mold started showing up.

“When you walked around the areas of the hospital that used EIFS, you could see glass shards stuck in it and pieces of two-by-fours that had penetrated it,” Farnen said. “Some debris can go right through it.”

Lesson Learned: Harden the Building’s Exterior Covering. “The new facility will not be covered with EIFS in any of the patient care areas,” Farnen said. “Building exteriors in those areas will either be reinforced concrete, stone and brick, or precast concrete. The entire exterior skin will be made of a harder material, which will prevent the kind of exterior damage we saw at the old hospital and help prevent the kind of serious interior damage that led to chaos and injuries.”

Farnen said the first and second floors of the new 900,000-sq-ft, nine-story structure will have exteriors of hand-laid brick. Above those levels the exterior will be precast concrete with brick veneer. He said they would have used handlaid brick for the upper levels, too, but had to use precast concrete in order to meet the project’s compressed timetable. It’s now scheduled to open in early 2015.

“Brick and stone is just a lot better look,” he said. “Not only does it hold up better in severe weather, but you just can’t beat the look of brick and stone. So, you get a great look and better protection.”

Another lesson learned was to harden and protect back up power sources, and masonry plays a key role in that, too. “Losing power created a lot of problems for us,” Farnen said. “When the tornado hit, the transformers that provide normal power to the facility were lost almost immediately… So, there was no power of any kind inside the hospital, not even for critical-care areas. The new facility will have a separate central utility plant that will be housed in a hardened structure.”

Farnen also noted that the hardened exterior was no budget buster. It added only 2-3 percent to the construction cost. Going forward, he added, Mercy will apply the lessons learned in Joplin to all the new facilities it builds in its four-state service area. Indeed, near the new Mercy Hospital Joplin, the health system plans to break ground next year for a separate behavioral health hospital and a rehabilitation hospital, and these also will have the same tornado-resistant features, he said.

Rudy Garza, executive vice president of the Texas Masonry Council, said a growing number of Texas communities would agree with the Missouri health care executive. More than 170 Texas cities have adopted minimum requirements for masonry on the exteriors of new construction.

The Joplin tornado was a historic natural disaster, and every city should look closely at the lessons learned in that event,” Garza said. “The hospital’s experience is an important example and has implications for residential, as well as commercial structures.”

He added that, “Often, Texas municipal leaders cite appearance, community image, sustainability, and safety as the main reasons for requiring masonry as the primary exterior material.”


The Texas Masonry Council represents the masonry manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in Texas. The TMC assists communities seeking to enhance their appearance, safety, and long-term sustainability by incorporating masonry planning into their development plans.

Brick Council Members Take a Firm Stance Against EPA’s MACT

Brick Council members have been writing their member representatives of Congress  concerning Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  Docket Number EPA–HQ–OGC–2012–0905, or the Brick and Structural Clay MACT.

The Council’s position on  MACT, or the “maximum achievable control technology” standard currently being developed by the EPA, it that it has the potential to do the brick and structural clay manufacturing industry significant harm, yet offers little actual environmental or health benefit.   In short, the brick and clay manufacturing industry spent over $100 million complying with a 2003 MACT standard set by EPA.  This MACT standard was vacated by the court in 2007.   The EPA is now using those controls, installed in good faith, to rationalize even more stringent and unnecessary controls on the industry.  In 2008, the Sierra Club, an unrelated third party, sued the EPA to force them to issue a new rule.  EPA sought a dismissal, but was denied.  EPA declined to appeal the decision, and has been negotiating a consent decree with the Sierra Club to schedule the issuance of a new rule.  Under the proposed consent decree, EPA must sign a proposed Brick MACT no later than August 30, 2013, and sign a final rule by July 31, 2014.

Not only is this process fundamentally flawed, it represents an unprecedented “MACT upon MACT” situation, subjecting one industry to consecutive rounds of regulation and increased standards, and rendering recent compliance efforts moot.  Consequently, the brick industry strongly feels that the proposed timeline is prejudicial and unrealistic. While the Council continues to believe that EPA is endeavoring to craft appropriate and workable standards for our industry, the proposed schedule threatens EPA’s ability to evaluate alternatives provided in the Clean Air Act that could mitigate or negate unnecessary and destructive burdens on our industry.  Left unaddressed, this portends disaster for brick companies, their employees, and the domestic brick and clay manufacturing industry as a whole.

The brick industry has gone to great lengths to work with the EPA to craft sound and effective emissions regulations, and  the regulatory process should reflect these efforts — not be short-circuited through the judicial process, and negotiated with a third party who neither operates within the industry, nor bears any burden of compliance.


Master Brick Featured on GFWBA Showcase Home

Master Brick has donated all the brick for the  Greater Fort Worth Builders Association Showcase Home located in  Twin Creeks in Mansfield.  A number of builders association members have donated products for the home which will soon be completed.  It is currently listed for sale; proceeds will go to benefit the GFWBA.

Next Council Meeting is June 14

The DFW Brick Council met in Dallas on April 12th to discuss continuing efforts to promote brick to builders and homeowners in North Texas. Beverly Smirnis, editor of Building Savvy Magazine and Associate Member, encouraged Members and Associate members to take advantage of promoting their businesses through Council website and Facebook page. The Council discussed creating LinkedIn page. Smirnis also informed the Council of new mobile technology that makes websites more user-friendly for Iphone and Ipad users and the prospect of putting brick jobs on Pintrest for designers.

All nine distributor members were present with seven associate members and one guest.

The next meeting of the Council is Thursday June 14 at the Holiday Inn in Arlington.  Prospective members are invited.  Please contact Brett Packer if you are interested in joining us to learn more.

Member News

Brett Packer Elected BIA Chairman

Congratulations to  Brett Packer, for his election as Brick Industry Association Chairman.   Packer has previously served as Vice Chairman of the BIA’s Board of Directors, Member of BIA’s Executive Committee, Member of the Board of Directors of BIA-Southwest Region.   He  has also been a constant recruiter of new distributor members into BIA and was recognized in 2009 for  his longstanding commitment to the industry by winning  BIA’s Volunteer of the Year Award.   Packer was instrumental in the establishment of the DFW Brick Council and continues to serve as its Chairman.

Dennis Thomas with Bo Sullivan of AHI Supply

We are thankful to report that Dennis Thomas of Clay Structures survived a heart attack and is recuperating nicely.  Just days after being released from the hospital Dennis made it to our April Council meeting.  We were most grateful to have him there.

Beverly Smirnis, of Building Savvy Magazine shows the Council's new website to new Associate Member, Dan Spencer.

We welcome Dan Spencer of Mid America Brick of Mexico, MO as our newest Associate Member. Mid America Brick offers a broad line of brick and sells all of its products through independent distributors.

Bob Helton of RK Holmes Company is the Council’s Associate Member of the Month.  His company’s expertise lies in masonry construction with regard to masonry cleaning, masonry coloring, and masonry sealing.  Bob covers Oklahoma, Northern Louisiana, and DFW for RK Homes and represents PROSOCO, Incorporated,  a custom formulator of specialty cleaners and protective treatments for masonry and concrete.