Sunday, November 13, 2011

Engineer in charge of condo construction slams contractors in fatal Brooklyn building collapse

Cheap steel, nails and clamps caused collapse: engineer 

Engineer Steve Schneider blames contractor’s actions for Brooklyn building collapse.

BY Brian Kates

The engineer overseeing construction of a Brooklyn condo that collapsed in a deadly heap last week says the contractor on the job was using procedures that “were not even vaguely correct.”

Engineer Steve Schneider, who was responsible for certifying the safety of concrete work at the doomed site, told the Daily News he was not on-site to inspect the setup when the concrete was poured.

City officials believe the contractor’s decision to pour concrete from the top floors down may have caused the half-built condo to collapse, killing one worker and injuring four others.

Schneider said the contractor, SP&K Construction, didn’t notify him that the concrete pour was about to begin.

“I didn’t have any idea what stage they were at,” Schneider said. “The last time I was there was when they poured the foundation about 3 ½ weeks before.

“I would not have approved it,” Schneider said of Tuesday’s job at Brighton Fifth St. in Brighton Beach.

Schneider said the contractors “used materials that did not conform to approved plans” and bumbled through procedures that “were not even vaguely correct.”

Floor decking was made of a lighter gauge steel than called for and may not have been strong enough to support the concrete, Schneider said.

Also, joists supporting the decking were loosely attached with nails and clamps instead of being welded or fastened with special screws, he said.

“The plans were approved by the Buildings Department,” Schneider said. “If they had followed the plans, followed the directions, there wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Several sources familiar with ongoing investigations into the cause of the collapse said another safety issue involved the pump used to pour the concrete.

Because it shakes violently during the pour, workers lashed the pump to the building to stabilize it. That caused disastrous vibrations that may have helped trigger the tragedy, they said.

The condo’s steel skeleton collapsed with a roar, sending firefighters racing to the scene. The Bravest freed the trapped hardhats using blowtorches and pry bars.

One worker, Ukrainian immigrant Ivan Lendel, 54, went into cardiac arrest and died later that day.

After the collapse, city Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said investigators believed it happened because workers pouring fresh concrete “started from the top and worked their way down.”

Standard industry practice is to pour concrete on lower floors first and allow it to dry for at least four days to ensure stability before moving up to the next floor, experts said.

Construction experts said that the contractor may have been trying to save time and money by working from the top down because starting from the bottom requires more time for the concrete to set.



  2. So were these guys union? And is this what we might have to deal with with easing up on our contract conditions these people should be sued for murder as a result of greed a mans life was lost because the contractor wanted to make more money and take short cuts is this what is in store for us in the future

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  4. You can know all about the engineer in charge of condo. Good post

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