Two workers were hurt while demolishing one of the City of Philadelphia's most imminently dangerous buildings this morning in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. They were hit by falling debris from one of the adjoining buildings.
The accident happened around 10:30 a.m. while the crew was starting the clean-up phase of demolition on a row home at 3026 Diamond Street, according to Scott Mulderig, who heads up the Emergency Services Division of the department of Licenses and Inspections.
Workers with Gama Wrecking Crew, which is an approved city contractor, said the demolition was going as planned when brownstone facings and bricks from the adjacent property collapsed onto them.
"We were taking a break and a piece of the brownstone up top fell," said Gama Wrecking Crew worker Abu Harris. "When I turned around, both of them were on the ground."
One man was struck on the head while the other was hit on his neck, shoulder and leg, according to Philadelphia firefighters. They were taken to Hahnemann Hospital for treatment. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
Both men had on helmets and safety gear, according to Rebecca Swanson with Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections.
The building, which according to city records is owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, partially collapsed a few weeks ago and was being torn down as part of the city's relatively new effort to aggressively get rid of the 500 most imminently dangerous buildings.
Mulderig indicated that prequalified contractors who have been vetted by the city and are working on city-administered projects are not required to submit engineering surveys before demolition and that today's demolition was by the book. Our requests for Mulderig to discuss why city-approved contractors are not held to the same standards that the city itself enacted went unanswered tonight.
"Mulderig's silence is deafening," said Mongeluzzi.
Map of the 514 most imminently dangerous buildings in Philadelphia.
Under the city-administered program, master contractors can apply to be pre-approved by the city, which speeds up the demolition process because once bids are awarded, the work can begin, Mulderig explained.
"Prequalified. That's the best part of the program. They have their insurance, their licenses, they're up to date and they have a bonded date prior to being allowed to bid on any city properties. There's enough work for everybody," said Mulderig.
Gama Wrecking won the bid to take down the building at 3026 Diamond on April 10, 2014.
Swanson said L&I officials went over the whole plan with Gama before demolition began and that everything was proceeding as planned ahead of Tuesday's incident.
The city made changes in its demolition regulations after last year's building collapse at 22nd and Market Streets, which killed 6 people and injured 13. One of the major changes requires contractors to submit an engineering survey to L&I before demolition can begin.
"It's the single most important thing you can do is to submit a survey," said construction accident attorney Bob Mongeluzzi, whose Philadelphia firm represents the majority of people who've filed suit in the Market Street collapse. "All the cases where people have been hurt or killed, they have one thing in common -- they've never had a survey submitted."
According to the city's demolition permit application requirements, the engineering or site survey "plan must address the methods used to carry out the demolition, as well as the proposed measures for protecting adjoining structures, property and pedestrian/vehicle traffic."
Mulderig indicated that prequalified contractors who have been vetted by the city and are working on city-administered projects are not required to submit engineering surveys before demolition and that today's demolition was by the book.