FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2007
MULTI-AGENCY UPDATE ON FIRE AT 130 LIBERTY STREET
This press release contains a statement from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on the fire that took place on Saturday at 130 Liberty Street. The Fire Department (FDNY), the City Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection have also provided updates that are contained below.
"Today I was briefed on two separate and ongoing Fire Department investigations by Fire Commissioner Scoppetta, Chief of Department Cassano and Acting Chief Fire Marshal Byrnes. One investigation is focused on the cause of the fire and is being conducted by Fire Marshals. The other focuses on the circumstances that led to the deaths of Firefighters Beddia and Graffagnino and is being conducted by the FDNY's Safety Command. It includes an examination of the Fire Department's response and decisions made at the scene. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is fully cooperating," said Mayor Bloomberg. "At this point we do not know the cause of the fire, but full and comprehensive investigations are underway. We are using every possible resource to find out how this fire started and what went wrong. Certainly, we owe that to Firefighters Beddia and Graffagnino, their families, and to the brave men and women of the FDNY."
Update from FDNY Investigations:
Fire Marshals believe the fire started on the 17th floor on the south (Albany Street) side of the building, several feet from the hoist-way (exterior elevator) door. The fire origin area was used as an exit location for workers after they had gone through a decontamination (decon) station, from which they would exit the building via the hoist. Marshals have also spoken to eyewitnesses who've stated that workers would smoke and extinguish cigarettes in this area. There was also some electrical equipment at that location, including hot water heaters for the decon showers. Marshals are also interviewing numerous employees of Bovis Lend Lease and John Galt.
As to the second investigation, the FDNY today conducted a full test of the standpipe system and determined that it was not operational. In the basement of the structure, Fire Marshals observed that a section of the standpipe was not attached and was lying on the floor nearby. The FDNY is issuing a violation for failure to maintain the standpipe in working order and the contractor will be required to bring the standpipe into working order before work is allowed to continue. The FDNY's investigation into how the standpipe was disabled is continuing. The Fire Department is also investigating why the building's sprinkler system was not operational.
Oversight of the decontamination and deconstruction of 130 Liberty Street is unusually complex, and involves Federal, State and City agencies. Nonetheless, the FDNY and the Department of Buildings have conducted various numerous inspections of the standpipe. Reports from those inspections are being reviewed.
The NYC Building and Fire Prevention Codes both require that those undertaking demolition operations maintain a dry standpipe. In addition, the 130 Liberty Street Implementation Plan prepared by the contractor, as well as the contract between the building owner and the general contractor, and the contractor's health and safety plan all require such a standpipe to be maintained within the building throughout the deconstruction process.
Update from the Department of Buildings:
The Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a Stop Work Order on Sunday, August 19th. This order does not apply to remedial work necessary to make the job safe, such as cleaning up broken glass and replacing planking on the scaffold. The DOB stop work order does not apply to abatement work; however, the City understands that all work at the site has stopped.
Although floors 13-18 were damaged in the fire, Buildings inspectors and forensic engineers have determined that the building is structurally sound and not in danger of collapse. It is important to note that the Buildings Department's oversight extends only to the floors permitted for demolition. As of August 18th, that included floors 22 and up.
Update from the Department of Environmental Protection:
The Department of Environmental Protection continues to oversee air quality testing at the 130 Liberty Street site. Air monitoring is ongoing. To date, 183 samples from 22 locations - both immediately adjacent to 130 Liberty Street and from several locations on surrounding blocks - have tested negative for asbestos. Eight of the locations are from sampling stations set up as part of the deconstruction of 130 Liberty Street. Fourteen of the locations were added by DEP in the aftermath of the fire to test for asbestos. DEP will continue to do air sample testing from the scene.
The sampling stations set up as part of the 130 Liberty Street deconstruction project test for several contaminants and particulate matter. Samples from those stations will take several days to analyze. There are 12 sampling sites for this project in total; four of the stations remain inaccessible due to fire investigation and other work ongoing within the building. They will be analyzed as soon as it is safe to access the sampling sites. Information on air sampling related to the deconstruction of 130 Liberty Street is available at the website of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center at: http://www.lowermanhattan.info/lmccc/programs/
As expected from a large building fire, elevated levels of particulates were detected in the air during yesterday's fire. Those particulates decreased rapidly once the fire was controlled and are currently at normal levels.
Stu Loeser/John Gallagher (212) 788-2958