City forms task force to investigate deadly collapse

Inspectors surveyed the collapse site yesterday. Rikard Larma/METRo
Inspectors surveyed the collapse site. Rikard Larma/METRo

After six deaths and 14 injuries at last week’s building collapse, City Council will look into revamping demolition procedures.

“Demolitions happen every day of the week all across the city,” said Council President Darrell Clarke. “And, unfortunately, this incident had to happen … to get very aggressive in doing what we do.”

Clarke announced yesterday the formation of task force – consisting of council members Bobby Henon, Maria Quinones Sanchez, Jim Kenney, Jannie Blackwell and Curtis Jones Jr. – who will investigate the mismanagement and oversight in last week’s building collapse.

The committee will review city standards and practices when it comes to licenses, permits, construction, demolition, worker certification, building maintenance, and safety.

Henon, who said he has worked in construction for the majority of his adult life, said the building’s collapse was “a result of greed.”

“The owner of the property was trying to save a little bit of money by hiring contractors who use unqualified, unlicensed workers,” he said.

Kenney said cost should not outweigh safety.

“Cost of construction should not trump safety,” he said. “And safety should not be sacrificed to cut costs.”

“One of the things that is most egregious in this whole process is this third-party permit pulling activity where an individual who happens to be licensed under a certain trade. … goes in and a pulls a permit … sees the potential and hands it over to a non-licensed, and unqualified company that does demolition work,” Kenney added.

Jones said that “with every crisis there is an opportunity.”

“We have a lot of questions,” he said. “And we are going to demand the answers. Our crisis should come also with public policy.”

Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration has come under fire in recent days after allegations surfaced that the demolition contractor, Griffin Campbell Construction, operated in an unsafe manner and had a history of code violations.

The city last week announced a sweeping set of reforms surrounding the permitting, inspection and penalty enforcement of private contractors at demolition sites.

 


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