Contractor and construction company negligence led to firewall collapse - Report

A violent windstorm event was enough to topple a firewall that failed to keep a six-storey rental building up

Contractor and construction company negligence led to firewall collapse - Report

Construction & Engineering

By Lyle Adriano

An inspection report by WorkSafeBC has found that a masonry contractor and a construction company violated workplace safety standards in the construction of a firewall – one that had toppled over several residential buildings following a violent windstorm.

The windstorm that buffeted Vancouver’s Strathcona neighborhood on April 07 managed to knock over a five-storey brick firewall, which fell on to a house, a coach house, and a building for the Lee Benevolent Society. The incident displaced six people from their damaged homes. The firewall was a part of the Brixton Flats six-storey rental building that was under construction at the time.

WorkSafeBC’s report found that Alegra Masonry – the company that built the firewall – should have made sure that the wall would “withstand any loads likely to be imposed” on it.

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Nick Vukelic, Alegra Masonry owner, explained to CBC that it was not his fault that the wall came crashing down.

“It wasn’t in our scope of work to tie the firewall back to the building,” Vukelic said. “The structural engineer missed it. They’re the guys that sign off on this, and they missed it.”

Documents prepared by WorkSafeBC revealed that it had difficulty contacting the masonry company. The workplace safety agency also noted that it has still not received compliance orders from the company, despite deadlines.

Alegra Masonry is facing a $512 administrative penalty for not responding to the agency immediately.

The agency’s report also found that the main contractor on the site, Peak Construction, failed to perform regular inspections and had failed to notify WorkSafeBC of the toppled firewall.

“We’re examining where things went wrong so we can make sure that, on major projects like this, there are no further incidents,” said Brixton Flats representative Dani Pretto.

Trevor McEachran and Hayden Kannegiesser, a couple displaced by the firewall’s fall, are currently fundraising for legal aid. The two hope to claim some compensation from Brixton Flats developer GMC Projects.

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