FDNY Rescues Workers Stranded Atop the Hearst Building

June 12, 2013 Updated: June 12, 2013

NEW YORK—A fire department emergency team rescued two scaffold maintenance workers stranded on a rig on the 44th floor of the Hearst Building in Midtown Manhattan on June 12.

The workers were stranded in a metallic scaffold high above 8th Avenue at 57th Street since noon, according to a construction worker who saw them from a tower across the street.

Firefighters were called at 2:40 p.m. and arrived within four minutes of the call. Firefighters immediately went to the roof and lowered ropes to the scaffold so that workers could have additional safety.

Firefighters from Rescue Company 1 then used specialized tools to cut a 4-x-4 foot hole in the glass on the 44th floor of the building, according to deputy assistant chief James Leonard with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Leonard said that the scaffold workers were calm and communicating with the firefighters as they awaited rescue.

The entire operation took approximately 90 minutes.

“The operation was coordinated with safety in mind,” said Leonard at a press conference outside the building after the rescue. 

Police closed down 8th Avenue starting at 42nd Street and up to 57th Street to ensure safety for the neighborhood and facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles.

Firefighter Tom Gayron of Rescue Company One went out onto the buckled scaffold after the glass was cut and assisted the two victims into the building. 

“We drill on this a lot,” said Gayron. “We practice this. It’s really just like we’re training, not worried about how high.”

Gayron said that the scaffold was tied to the building from the inside before the rescue commenced. Gayron added that the two men said “thank you,” once they were safely inside the building.

The Department of Labor and the Department of Buildings will be investigating the incident, FDNY said. 

The scaffold that malfunctioned was built specifically for Hearst Building. It is used by glass-cleaning workers and operates on a rail in order to access each side of the building for cleaning. A construction worker familiar with the equipment said that the scaffold is one of the safest in the industry.

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