By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As City Council continued its probe Thursday into last month’s tragic building collapse on Market Street, they heard from independent demolition experts who said that city inspectors inspect very little.
Among the experts testifying before council’s special committee was Alvin Davis, an engineer with 30 years in the demolition business, including the Spectrum. He said inspectors from Licenses and Inspections come by merely to check the paperwork — and they don’t judge the safety of the demolition in progress.
“L&I may come by, their responsibility to them is just to make sure you have your permit,” Davis said. “They may not have demolition experience. They may not know what precautions to tell you to take. They may not know all that.”
Davis said it ultimately rests with the general contractor to ensure a safe demolition — and he admitted that unscrupulous contractors may focus more on cutting corners to save money.
No one from L&I or the Fire Department appeared at the hearing, which prompted criticism from some committee members. The committee chairman, Curtis Jones, took the high road in regard to the no-shows, but he implied that private discussions between the committee and those departments may need take place.
“Whether that communication happens in this public forum or offline because of their concerns about legal liabilities is not my concern,” Jones said. “My concern is at the end of the day, producing a report that will make sure that this tragedy does not happen the same way ever again.”
But attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, who is representing the family of one who died and six of those injured in the collapse, said city officials should not be silent because of ongoing lawsuits.
“The prudent thing to do is to tell the truth,” Mongeluzzi said, “and to lay out the facts exactly as they are, and let the chips fall where they may in litigation.”
Council formed the investigatory committee after the June 5th collapse to look at communication and cooperation among city departments, and at the need for regulatory review.