Julian Toneatto, Ph.D., PE and E. Mitchell Swann, P.E. testified on 1 August 2013 at a City of Philadelphia City Council hearing looking into techniques, technologies and guidelines to improve building demolition practices within the city. [Background: On 5 June 2013, a building under demolition experienced an uncontrolled collapse which fell onto an adjacent retail property which was occupied at the time. There were 6 fatalities and 14 injuries, several of them critical. Wikipedia reference, 2013 Philadelphia Building collapse.
Julian and Mitch came to the role of testifying based on an inquiry to The Engineers Club of Philadelphia and their Technical Advisory Council (TAC). The Club had been contacted by the Chief of Staff of the City Councilman chairing the hearings and requested the TAC’s input. Mitch is the current President of The Engineers Club and one of the initiatives he has instituted is the development of a Technical Advisory Council (TAC).
The intent of the TAC is to provide a ‘neutral source’ of high level technical advice to institutions like The City of Philadelphia on technically driven issues that are vital to the City’s efficiency, effectiveness, economic vitality and public health and safety. At the hearing, Julian focused on structural, civil and foundation engineering issues and Mitch focused on MEP system and utility interfaces and the potential for airborne hazards.
The day’s proceedings also included testimony from code officials, contractors, building owners, attorneys and other science and engineering experts. Philadelphia’s City Council intends to gather input from numerous sources and to develop an improved Philadelphia standard for the submission, approval and execution of demolition plans in the City. New guidelines are expected to be rolled out by 1 January 2014. In the interim, on site monitoring has been stepped up to hopefully prevent any repeats of the 5 June 2013 collapse.