Yesterday evening, Bovis Lend Lease, the contractor charged with dismantling the WTC-dust contaminated Deutsche Bank building, faced an angry group of residents and lawmakers during a crowded community meeting. The seven-alarm fire on August 18, which claimed the lives of two firefighters, was likely started by construction workers smoking, which is against the rules in the highly flammable environment. Investigation after the fire found that the demolition site was essentially a "deathtrap," with a standpipe, the use of flammable materials, and blocked passage.
Days after the fire, two firefighters investigating the site were injured when a 300-pound piece of equipment fell (a worker lost control). And in May, a piece of piping from the building fell into a neighboring firehouse. Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, said, "How much more fear and trepidation is this community expected to endure? These accidents are inexcusable. We need to know that you understand that Bovis has an obligation to this community."
Newsday reported that Bovis refused to answer "specific" questions, because of the Manhattan DA's office's criminal investigation. And when Bovis EVP Mark Melson told the group, "Bovis is justifiably proud of its safety record in New York City," the NY Times says that "laughter and sarcastic comments [came] from the crowd." And according to the Sun, a new safety plan for the dismantling may include "a new code for monitoring the building's standpipe, a development he said could shake up how monitoring is done at demolition and construction projects across the city." While Bovis was responsible for the demolition work, the firm had sub-contracted the job to John Galt Corporation, a Bronx company that the city had been concerned about. The Times has an article about the shady dealings of John Galt.
The FDNY has also been weathering criticism that it did not keep up with inspections of the building as it should have and that it ignored recommendations to develop a plan to fight potential fires at 130 Liberty Street. Three fire officials were demoted (unfairly, some are saying) and there's a report that the FDNY didn't want its firefighters going into the building for fear of toxins.
Photograph of the fire by Marianne O'Leary on Flickr