Scaffold Accident at the former Deutsche Bank Building in NYC Comes Just Days After Fatal Fire

Two firefighters were injured Thursday, August 23rd, 2007, when a forklift fell from scaffolding and crashed into a shed at the former Deutsche Bank building in Manhattan. Both firefighters were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Sources said both of the firefighters sustained serious head injuries.

Fire officials said a tool fell off the scaffold and landed atop a sidewalk shed that the firefighters were standing under. The force of the impact caused a helmet one of the firefighters was wearing to crack. The fire department said that a construction worker entered an elevator at the work site at about 2 p.m. with a pallet jack, when he lost control of the motorized lifting tool. The pallet jack crashed through the hoist-way door and fell through a construction shed on the ground level, the fire department said in a statement. It was initially thought that other people at the scene may have been injured.

Fire officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire and what part a malfunctioning standpipe played in hampering efforts by firefighters to get enough water to fight the fire above the fifth floor. According to reports, the New York Fire Department failed to visually inspect standpipes in the former Deutsche Bank building every 15 days as required by city rules for buildings being demolished, and had not done any inspections at the building since November 2006, according to records released yesterday by City Hall. The standpipe systems readiness to perform in a fire was last checked in November 1996, when the building was a functioning office building, and the system was filled with water and tested with pressure gauges, the Bloomberg administration said.

Under fire codes, it is the building owner who must do such water, or hydrostatic, tests. Previously, firefighters had been in the building for reasons other than inspections, once when a pipe fell from the building last spring and crashed into a nearby firehouse. Fire personnel were also in the building in August when citations were issued to contractors.

Records also detailed a series of violations that have been issued by the Buildings Department against Bovis Lend Lease, the contractor overseeing the entire demolition project, and the subcontractor in charge of the demolition, the John Galt Corporation. Bovis was cited on June 6 for a large amount of combustible material/debris accumulating.

The subcontractor was cited on Aug. 1 because burning operations, were causing sparks to fly; and on Aug. 3 for an expired certificate to store/use acetylene. John Galt Corporation has been removed from the job.

The personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit, with offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handle construction worker and construction site accident cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients.

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