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Transcript: Mayor Adams Briefs Media on Crane Collapse in Hudson Yards

July 26, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning, and actually it is a good morning as we see what's playing out behind us. We had a fire on top of one of our cranes. Thank God that the injuries to four individuals were minor. The FDNY will go through the extent of those injuries. We're joined here by the full complement of our city agencies that are going to coordinate to ensure that we, number one, fully extinguish the fire, and number two, make sure that everyone in the surrounding buildings are safe and make a determination of what extent of evacuation, and number three, start the process of dismantling the crane that's on top.

We're going to make sure that it's done in a very orderly fashion. As you see from the debris on the street, this could have been much worse. We are extremely fortunate, number one, that we were not during the busy time of the day. As you know, the port authority is here. Many of the buses moved through here. We were extremely fortunate, but we're also fortunate that the men and women of the FDNY and our first responders responded in such a manner and properly made the right evaluation of how to look at the fire that we were presented and the prices we were presented and coming up with the right effective solution to minimize any additional injuries.

I want to turn it over to the deputy commissioner of FDNY, and then we'll turn it over to the Department of Buildings to give an analysis of the structure of the existing crane that's here. And then we'll open up to a few questions.

First Deputy Commissioner Joseph Pfeifer, Fire Department: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And the mayor is correct, this is a good morning. This could have been a lot worse. At 7:25 this morning we got a report of a fire in the engine compartment of the crane, and we're talking about the engine compartment above the roof line, about 45 stories up. As our fire units responded to the scene, we had a collapse. The top part of the crane, the boom and a 16 ton load crashed to the ground. At that point we had injuries to civilians and firefighters, but they were minor. We have four injuries to civilians and two to our firefighters. Minor injuries, but one of our firefighters are having chest pains and being transported to the hospital.

What we should know about this is that we worked together to evacuate the buildings. Firefighters were in the surrounding buildings, evacuated the buildings and also stretched hose lines to the top floors. At this moment, from our drone pictures, we're able to see that most of the fire has been extinguished. But presently we have a fifth alarm assignment, over 200 firefighters and EMS personnel at the scene. But let me turn it over to the Department of Buildings for their assessment.

Commissioner Jimmy Oddo, Department of Buildings: Thank you. Thank you, Chief. Jimmy Oddo, commissioner, Department of Buildings. As the mayor and the chief said, we are really fortunate this morning. But this is not a mayor who relies on luck so it's my job and our agency's job to find out exactly what happened here. This is quick moving. Don't have a lot of answers or all the answers. We will get them to you in time.

We have a building under constructions. It's intended to be a 54 story mixed use building. The general contractor is Monadnock Construction. All permits for the building, for the crane operation were pulled operating per those permits. There was a prior unrelated incident early at the site with this contractor. When they were doing excavation, they hit a ConEd vault. But there are no other instances, incidents at this site.

There are lots of people who are part of the crane operation. There's an engineer that writes up the plans, there's essentially a general contractor, there's the user. We will be looking at all of those folks. And what we intend to do, similar to post the Anne Street garage situation, we are putting in place contracts so that we will have an independent assessment as well. The folks who are involved in the crane operation, the general contractor of the project, we're looking at all, as I'm sure you'll be, we are looking at all of their histories to see what those stories are.

Mayor Adams: Open to take any questions?

Question: Mr. Mayor, was somebody operating this cab, and what ignited the cab?

Mayor Adams: FDNY?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: Crane operator was operating the crane at that point and was lifting 16 tons of concrete. And that crane operator saw that the fire started and tried to extinguish it. We give a lot of credit to the crane operator, but the fire overwhelmed that operator and had to exit the crane.

Question: And he was able to get out? Was he safe?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: The crane operator was able to get out and is safe.

Question: How did [inaudible.].

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: We extinguished it with hose lines. We stretched-

Question: [Inaudible]?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: With hand extinguishers.

Question: [Inaudible] the Buildings commissioner, just talk to me about the crane hitting the [inaudible].

Commissioner Oddo: Yeah, the second building. Our DOB structural engineers were en route before we started. They're probably here. We will look at the structural integrity of the building that was hit. We'll look at the structural integrity obviously of the building that was worked on. We have a specific cranes and derricks unit. All of the DOB personnel is here on route, and when they have a chance to assess it, we will have more answers for you.

Question: [Inaudible] this is a crane from, it looks like it's a crane from Lomma, a second crane collapse from Lomma, the first one in 2008 deadly. Another crane collapse from the same operator?

Commissioner Oddo: Well again, as I said earlier, there's the engineer. We have who the engineer is. That's Steve Valjato Engineering. You have the crane user, which is Cross Country, and the crane owner, which is New York City Crane and Equipment. And again, give us some time. We'll be looking at all the parties, their records, and we will get you more information, more specifics as quickly as possible.

Question: How did that end engine ignite? What happened? How is that possible?

Mayor Adams: Well, part of the review to determine exactly what happened. Once we get up there, once we are able to look at it and do an analysis, we can find out exactly what's happened. This is our preliminary.

Question: [Inaudible] question. What was the building where it happened and what was the building it hit, the address?

Mayor Adams: We have the address, Jimmy?

Question: [Inaudible].

Mayor Adams: The address.

Question: [Inaudible] where it happened and the building that it hit. Can you tell us the addresses?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: It's 550 10th Avenue and, I believe, 555 10th Avenue is the building that was hit.

Question: Can you tell us, were there any construction workers inside the building? Were they working at the time? Was anybody [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: Do you know if any construction workers were inside?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: The injuries were all minor to four civilians, which included some of the workers. They were very fortunate.

Question: So none inside? None of the construction workers inside the building?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: As we know as of now, they were on the outside when the debris fell.

Question: [Inaudible] fire chiefs about the…

Mayor Adams: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You see this guy here? [Inaudible]

Question: [Inaudible] the arm that fell. What happened there? How did it disengage? What did it hit?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: I'd like you to picture what was taking place. The crane operates above the roof line. And on that, above the roof line, there's a beam that goes out, and that's carrying the weight of concrete. And that weight of 16 tons is attached by a cable. And as the fire heats the cable, the cable weakens to a point where it loses its strength, and that's where the collapse occurred.

Question: Can you tell us about the getting water on it? Any difficulty there?

First Deputy Commissioner Pfeifer: The difficulty when you have a fire so high up is to be able to supply water to the building, stretch hose lines from inside the building and across the street, and that takes manpower of firefighters. But it's also that we're able to search the surrounding buildings and evacuate it. And that's why it's a fifth alarm.

Mayor Adams: And attached to the boom [inaudible]. Attached to the boom was holding concrete. That's when you see that’s all over the street, because in addition to the boom, you had something that was holding a substantial number of concrete that was moving around, that was made up of these stones. Why we're so lucky is not only the boom falling to the street, but all of that concrete could have struck civilians. And this has spread out throughout the area here, so we were extremely, extremely lucky this morning. But getting this right, as the commissioner stated, is not about luck. It's about making sure that people who are above our skyline are doing it correctly. And it appears as through, at this time, all the documentations were in order.

Question: Just one question. All the injuries were people off the ground. The firefighters and the four civilians were all on the street.

Mayor Adams: That's what it appears now.

Question: And what were they injured by? The debris, or…

Mayor Adams: We'll find out.


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