Philadelphia cracking down on demolition work in several locations

Demolition site in West Philadelphia
June 11, 2013 9:06:22 PM PDT
The City of Philadelphia is starting to crack down on demolition work in the wake of last week's deadly building collapse that claimed six lives.

The demolition of a 3-story Victorian home in Southwest Philadelphia abruptly stopped after the city says it discovered issues with the tear-down.

The tough new rules of Licenses and Inspections are just the tip of the iceberg. It's in response to last week's deadly building collapse in Center City.

"I would say better late than never, because it will keep someone else from getting hurt down the line," said Johnny Boxcar of Southwest Philadelphia.

L&I has inspected 300 demolition sites since Thursday. 97 were active.

From Southwest to North Philadelphia, the department has stopped work at 5 sites for problems like expired insurance and licenses.

Inspectors say the walls at a site at 47th and Chester weren't braced properly, just like the walls of the building at 22nd and Market Streets which came down, killing 6 people, injuring 13.

"It's just a shame that building had to fall before they got deep into this," said Darnell Johnson of Southwest Philadelphia.

L&I also says it will increase oversight of private demolition contractors through heightened permitting and inspection requirements.

Earlier in the day Action News was at a demolition site on North 63rd Street in West Philadelphia where we found unsupported walls and a cluttered mess.

We confirmed Center City building collapse suspect Sean Benschop worked on the project.

After our repeated calls to City Hall, an inspector showed up and a contractor arrived to take down those unstable walls.

Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney says the fire department should be brought in to review demolition plans.

"They have the skills, training and integrity to make sure that their people, and the public, are safe," said Kenney.

L&I says those new strict rules will require details about a contractor's experience, qualifications and more.

The department is also creating a task force to review and audit licensing, permitting and inspections of major construction and demolition sites.

Also on Tuesday, the lawyer for the man who hired Benschop to work at 22nd and Market held a news conference saying his client, Griffin Campbell, was not responsible for that collapse.


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