Workers Raised Alarm Before ID Hangar Collapse

TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2024


Several workers at the site of the collapsed Idaho steel hangar had conveyed concerns over the structure’s integrity prior to the accident, according to Boise Police Department investigative reports.

The site supervisor was reportedly informed of concerns just the day before the collapse at the end of January, including “bending beams,” “snapped cables” and other structural issues.

What Happened

Around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the steel hangar under construction collapsed, also reportedly causing a crane to fall. However, while it was unclear when or how the crane fell, Aaron Hummel, Operations Chief for the Boise Fire Department, said it was placing something on the structure at the time of the collapse.

Emergency responders, including eight fire engines, three ladder trucks and a dozen ambulances, arrived to “a hectic scene and worked to secure and rescue victims.”

Fire crews worked to stabilize the scene. Hoists were needed to rescue some of the injured, and some of the rescues were “challenging,” Hummel said.

More than 30 people were at the site at the time, he said, adding that everyone was accounted for. The accident killed three people and injured nine others, of which five were in critical condition.

Boise city permitting records reportedly showed the contractor Big D Builders had obtained permits to build a 39,000-square-foot jet hangar for Jackson Jet Center. The $6.2 million project was to include the construction of a concrete foundation and a metal building.

“[The collapse] occurred just west of our existing Jackson Jet Center at our new 39,000-square-foot steel hangar under construction, where dozens of dedicated people were working on site,” Jackson Jet Center, which owns the structure, said in a statement reported by KIVI-TV.

“We do not know exactly what caused the hangar collapse. Our focus now is on supporting our team and partners during this difficult time.”

An airport official confirmed the building was on airport land but not a Boise Airport project. The airport itself was not impacted by the incident.

In the immediate aftermath, Boise Police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were reportedly investigating the cause of the collapse.

The following week, the workers killed in the incident were identified by officials as the investigation continued into what caused the structure to give way. One worker killed was the brother of the Big D Builders’ owner.

OSHA records reportedly revealed that the contractor has seven citations and has previously been fined tens of thousands of dollars over the past decade for failing to protect workers on projects. However, OSHA Area Director David Kearns said it is not uncommon for construction companies to have several citations. 

Records show that Big D Builders was cited after complaints and referrals for issues including improper training in putting up extension ladders, fall hazards and employees walking or working on surfaces with unprotected sides, edges or openings.

However, KTVB 7 Investigates said that it did not find any OSHA complaints related to the construction of the hangar on Boise Airport property belonging to the Jackson Jet Center. 

Kearns said they have six months to issue any citations because of a statute of limitations. Because of the complexities, he thinks the investigation will likely take that long. 

‘Bowing’ Steel Beams

According to public records obtained by The Idaho Statesman, at least two employees told police they had raised concerns about the steel frame to the site’s supervisor. Additionally, an Inland Crane supervisor said he told a co-founder of Big D Builders that the beams “did not look right.”

The Inland Crane supervisor “has worked a crane on several of these types of sites, and the ‘bowing’ of the beam did not look right to him,” police wrote in one of the reports. He reported this to co-founder Craig Durrant, who was killed in the accident; he reportedly called an engineer about the concerns.

Several employees also said the frame was bowing or bending, with one employee saying the overhead beams “looked like snakes.” The contractors also reportedly acknowledged problems installing the steel frame.

In an interview with police, Dennis Durrant, owner of Big D Builders and Craig Durrant’s brother, said that the beams were “bowing” and that they’d reached out to the manufacturer because the supports for the frame weren’t “adequate.”

Dennis Durrant said company officials had received some guidance from an engineer to re-enforce the building. Interviews showed the crane supervisor said Craig Durrant told him the frame was fine after speaking to the engineer, because the workers added straps on the beams and were trying to place more beams, known as purlins, to support the roof.

At the time of the collapse, according to police, the brothers were standing in the center of the construction site when they heard loud popping and breaking noises. They ran for the perimeter, but Dennis Durrant told police that the building “came down within seconds,” killing Craig Durrant.

An Inland Crane safety officer who didn’t witness the collapse told police that several of the company’s employees had advised him there were “structural integrity concerns” for the hangar, according to the reports.

“He also confirmed multiple crane operators from Inland Crane reported curved beams and snapped stiffener cables,” police wrote in one report.

Another crane operator at the scene told police that the hangar’s overhead beams weren’t straight and that there weren’t enough cross-sections to support the overhead beams, according to the reports. That crane operator said “this was very uncommon” and alleged of “corners being cut.”

Big D Builders declined to comment to the Statesman, citing the OSHA investigation.

“Inland Crane is actively participating in the OSHA investigation around the tragic incident that occurred on a Boise job site on Jan. 31,” a spokesperson for Inland Crane said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Out of respect for the integrity of that process, we have no additional statements to make until that review is completed. We continue to mourn the loss of our colleagues and friends.”

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Airports; Aviation; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Safety; Steel

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