A smokestack removal project in Pell City, Alabama, didn’t go according to plan. The stack was still standing after a round of explosives went off at its base. What happened next is hard to believe: the contractor got into his excavator and chipped away on the teetering structure. Can you guess what happened after that? Check out the video.
(This is the second fire at this complex since 2000 – while the project was under construction.)
EDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Maintenance workers fixing a leak and using a torch is what started the massive fire at an Edgewater, N.J., apartment complex fire, officials said Thursday night.
As 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, Edgewater police Chief William Skidmore said at a news conference the workers were using a blow-torch to make repairs to a leak at the Avalon at Edgewater complex, when a plumber accidentally ignited the fire in a wall.
Skidmore said the workers tried to put it out themselves and delayed calling for help for about 15 minutes. It is unclear how many workers were involved or where exactly the work was being done.
“They tried to suppress it themselves, and then they called their supervisor, which gave the fire a head start,” Skidmore said.
Fire Chief Thomas Jacobson said the delay in calling 911 put his crews at a disadvantage, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“It takes four minutes for a room to be fully engulfed and flash over so 15 minutes can make a big difference,” Jacobson said.
Officials also said Thursday a lightweight wood construction contributed to the fire, leaving hundreds of residents permanently displaced.
Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland said a local state of emergency remains in effect due to the fire at The Avalon at Edgewater, which broke out around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and raged for hours.
“It was a long and challenging night and I think every one of our first responders really stepped up to the challenge,” McPartland said.
McPartland said it was because of the good work of all the first responders that no lives were lost.
“I mean, I saw four brave men go into that fire and pull a woman out while the façade was coming down virtually on top of them,” he said.
The fire was brought under control by Thursday morning, but crews were still putting out hot spots and heavy smoke could be seen billowing from the structure even in the evening.
Jacobson said the fire appears to have started on the first floor and quickly spread through the floors and walls because of the building’s lightweight wood construction.
“If it was made out of concrete and cinder block, we wouldn’t have this problem,” he said, adding the building complied with construction codes.
Jacobson said the sprinklers were working and went off, but they were no match for these flames.
“It doesn’t get every area,” he said. “It gets the common areas where you can egress and get out. It gets your apartment. All the little voids inside every nook and cranny in the walls? No.”
Jacobson said crews simultaneously battled the fire while doing door-to-door searches and pulling people from the balconies.
“We had a crew trapped on the balcony with a victim; we had to rescue them with ground ladders from the back of the building. That was my concern first, not the building,” he said.
Firefighters from across New Jersey and from the FDNY helped battle the blaze. It was raised to more than five alarms Wednesday night and grew so large that the flames were visible from Midtown Manhattan.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, the Bergen County Arson Squad investigated where and how the fire started, even though it later turned out to be accidental.
“A fire of this magnitude is an automatic response for the arson squad,” Skidmore said.
Schools were closed Thursday and will remain closed Friday. McPartland said access to some roads around the building would be restricted.
In all, 240 units were destroyed, permanently displacing about 500 residents, McPartland said. An additional 520 residents from other Avalon buildings have also been displaced, McPartland said.
“Don’t know where to even start,” resident Seoung Ju Won told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
“It was like a volcano eruption, really,” said resident Angela Nyagu. “That’s what I watched on TV before, how volcanoes erupt. Now I witnessed that myself.”
Among the residents of the complex was Yankees announcer John Sterling, who talked to CBS2 about his experience.
“I walked to the building and smelled smoke, and I went out to my floor where my apartment is, and the smoke was so bad I couldn’t see, and I thought, ‘Hey, we’d better get out of here,’” Sterling said.
And many residents, including Limor Yoskowitz-Frinomas, were still waiting to hear whether their homes were destroyed.
“We’re hoping for the best,” she said. “My kids are OK, so I’m OK, and we’ll take it from there.”
There were no reports of any missing persons, but McPartland said two civilians and two firefighters suffered minor injuries. He said some pets were rescued from the blaze, but some did die in the fire.
“I saw gulfing flames coming out of the building, and unfortunately, I have two dogs that perished in the fire – Hailey and Griffin,” the woman said.
This isn’t the first time the very same apartment complex has been engulfed in flames.
In August of 2000, the complex was under construction when a fast-moving fire tore through it. The flames also destroyed a dozen surrounding homes, displacing up to 70 people.
The 2000 fire was ruled accidental by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. No deaths or serious injuries were reported.
This week, the state Department of Labor & Industries cited Kiewit General Joint Venture for safety violations related to crane operations at the SR 520 bridge pontoon construction site in Aberdeen.
L&I says it started an inspection in June after a 13,000-pound concrete counterweight fell as it was being lowered from a Potain crane. The video below shows the incident where the falling concrete block just misses two workers as its cable snaps.
L&I is fining Kiewit General $170,500 for one serious and three willful violations. The charges include failure to follow several manufacturer’s recommended changes after being notified of problems with flawed or defective lifting lugs on the counterweights.
L&I also says Kiewit General did not follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to use alternative safety rigging on the counterweight.
News reports say Kiewit disagrees with the violations being called “willful” and may file an appeal.
Kiewit General in the spring expects to finish the last three of the bridge’s 21 longitudinal pontoons at the Aberdeen site.
The last of the smaller stability pontoons floated out of a Tacoma casting basin earlier this month. They were built by a joint venture of Kiewit, General and Manson.
The structure is a dry wood frame, with a CMU fire wall separating the building wings. This building’s CMU fire wall prevented the adjoining wing from catching fire. The front side of this structure received more damaged than the back which is shown in the photos.
This demonstrates the effectiveness of the CMU firewall component in multi-family and commercial structures. The masonry industry works hard to continually reaffirm the use of CMU firewalls in buildings in condensed, urban areas to protect the community from major catastrophic fires as well as other energy, lifecycle and environmental factors.
The Masonry Institute of Washington is available to provide additional information on all masonry systems for both constructability and aesthetics.
The Federal Highway Administration has produced a nine-minute video detailing how the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River was repaired so quickly. The project, both temporary and permanent bridges, has won several awards since its completion. Check out the video below, it’s worth another look.
The organization called Crane Institute Certification is holding a regional crane skills competition in Woodland (southwest Washington) that will send two finalists on expense-paid trips to a championship event in late 2015 at a “high profile” venue.
The regional competition will be hosted on Sept. 5 by Industrial Training International at its training headquarters. It’s the second year ITI has hosted the regionals and the fourth year of the competition.
For this year’s competition, there will be more emphasis on skill and less on speed, and organizers have added new twists such as a rigging challenge.
ITI will also have an open house, vendor showcases and several hands-on workshops, including three staged accident scenes.
Last year, operators from Washington, Oregon and Idaho competed at the Northwest event. Organizers want to get additional operators from western Canada and northern California.
Operators can sign up at www.cicert.com/news/compete. The registration fee is $50.
Crane Institute of America Certification
Just because OSHA has proposed a delay to operator certification, doesn’t mean it will happen. Take notice of recent activity in Washington, D.C.
We recently learned about a different regulation in a similar situation to 1926.1400 Cranes and Derricks in Construction; on Aug. 7, OSHA withdrew a proposed rule to amend the On-Site Consultation Program.
Although not related to cranes and derricks, there are parallels worth noting. Stakeholder concerns that a delay discourages employers from participating was the key reason for moving forward. Many in the crane industry fear the same would happen if crane operator certification is delayed.
OSHA first issued an intent to delay and outlined plans for changing the Consultation Program at the end of July, just a few months after its proposal about crane operator certification. Yet, no such plan has been forthcoming from OSHA for cranes and derricks. The final rule for both are just 8 days apart.
While we remain unsure of what OSHA will do regarding crane operator certification, we do know that:
1. A delay is unnecessary; CIC has offered specific solutions to OSHA that fully solve the concerns raised.
2. According to industry studies, 80% fewer crane-related deaths and 50% fewer accidents occur with certified crane operators.
In addition, Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health for the AFL-CIO testified on Aug. 1, 2013 before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action Senate Judiciary Committee on “The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis.”
According to Seminario: “It is inexcusable and shameful that even where there was broad agreement that the cranes and derricks standard was needed and about what the rule should require, that the regulatory system failed to protect workers…During the eight year rulemaking, 176 workers died in crane accidents that would have been prevented.” Seminario’s testimony is clear: OSHA knows that certification saves lives and that delays will mean more people will die, unnecessarily.
Please contact OSHA and express your expectation that the agency remember its mission “to ensure a safe and healthy workplace,” which does not align with OSHA’s recent attitude that the purpose of regulations is to provide the agency with greater authority for imposing citations and fines on employers.
I hope that out of respect for the lives at stake, for the negotiated rule-making process that was fully supported by industry experts, and for the millions of dollars already invested by the industry, that OSHA does not delay. CIC will continue to remain compliant with OSHA and to drive our business based on the safety and needs of the industry. Employers can rely on CIC to:
1. Conduct meaningful certifications; CIC certified by type and capacity years before the OSHA regulation because this helps employers make sound decisions and gives operators credentials with merit.
2. Assess the knowledge, skill and abilities of operators for the purpose of reducing accidents.
3. Provide affordable, accessible and accredited certifications for crane operators and riggers.
Debbie Dickinson is executive director at Crane Institute of America Certification, which offers NCCA accredited certifications for mobile crane operators (five classifications) and qualified and advanced riggers and signal persons.
AGC of Washington, Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust Fund, Integrity Safety Solutions and Anita Johnson were awarded a Safety & Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Grant to develop a cutting edge, first-of-its-kind training program for underground construction. This video based training program (Hazard Observation and Labor Education, or HOLE) is designed to communicate the hazards and basic safeguards of underground construction as it is done by today’s practices. All other industry safety videos related to underground construction safety are outdated and inconsistent with current practices. The goal of this project is to help prevent the accidents and fatalities that are on the rise in this niche industry by creating a consistent, clear, concise video-based learning tool for workers to help prepare them for the hazards they will face underground.
As underground construction sees its fair share of inspectors, visitors and project owner tours, there is a need for a basic visitor orientation for people who will be visiting the project sites (while chaperoned).
To aid employers and workers keep safety in mind at all times on the job, the HOLE project includes posters and wallet cards that cover the key points of the video and can be placed around the job as a refresher, and hard hat stickers that can be used by the employer to easily identify if a worker has received the training and as a general reminder to all workers who will see the sticker on their own hard hat. For means of documentation purposes, HOLE also includes an orientation document and acknowledgement that indicates the key concepts conveyed by this training as well as space to cover site-specific rules, hazards and communications.
These products are provided to all employers in Washington State (FREE) through funding from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ SHIP grants.
To find the slate of HOLE products, click here.
With temperatures expected to hit the 90s next week, workers should prepare for the heat.
The state Department of Labor & Industries says working outdoors in hot weather can put you at risk of heat-related illness and offers these tips:
1. Start work well hydrated and drink as much as a cup of water every 15 minutes.
2. Watch co-workers for signs of heat-related illness, such as headaches, dizziness or nausea.
3. Pace your work and take scheduled breaks.
4. Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe to do so.
5. Avoid drinking caffeine or eating a heavy meal.