Two maintenance workers were stuck in wind gusts outside the 45th floor of the 600-foot-tall Hearst building when the scaffold they were working on collapsed at about 2:40 p.m.
Firefighters used special tools to cut open the glass on the 44th floor to reach the men. The maintenance workers, helped by firefighters, moved slowly from the scaffolding, and were lowered using safety ropes attached to the 46-story building’s roof.
After a tense 90-minutes, the two workers were pulled safety.
“It’s really just like when you’re training,” firefighter Tom Gayron said after the rescue. “You’re not really worried about how high, you’re just worried about getting these guys in and the training just takes over.”
Fire department Chief James Leonard said after the rescue it appeared the center motor of the scaffold’s three motors may have failed.
The metal scaffold, which was hoisted onto the roof afterward, also appeared to have buckled in the middle, into an elongated V shape. Fire officials said they were working with the city Department of Buildings to determine if the scaffold buckled after the motor failed or if it was always that shape.
The two workers, a 26-year-old Bronx man and a 49-year-old Brooklyn man, underwent medical evaluations once they were taken inside. Fire department paramedic Moses Nelson said the workers were fine and in good spirits.
“They thanked everybody and they smiled,” Nelson said.
The accident is under investigation by the city’s Buildings Department and the state Department of Labor.
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