Demolition of Tribune building resumes
FAIRFIELD — Demolition of the Tribune Printing Company building resumed this morning after nearly three weeks of inactivity and more than a month after part of the building was torn down on July 8.
Rich Vogt of Cross Iron Excavating was on the scene with an excavator at 8:30 a.m., moving debris from the outskirts of the fenced-in area to a large pile in the center. As he piled what was left of the building, the Fairfield Fire Department sprayed the area with water to limit the dust that went into the air.
Ryan Kurka, full-time driver for the fire department, used a remote control to manipulate the water cannon high atop the basket on the department’s aerial truck. He said the water cannon was spraying 700 gallons per minute.
With his remote control, he can move the ladder and change the speed and shape of the stream. He said using the remote control allows him to walk around the scene to get a better view of what areas need water. He said it’s more convenient than trying to run the water cannon from the turntable on the truck.
Kurka said he didn’t anticipate the water doing any damage to nearby buildings.
James Bedinger was in charge of supervising the demolition. Bedinger is the security director for Maharishi University of Management, but his role at the scene today was as a licensed supervisor and contractor to monitor asbestos removal. He said material that could contain asbestos has to be handled a certain way so it doesn’t spread outside the fenced-in boundary zone.
“We locate the asbestos and the form it’s in,” he said. “Asbestos can show up in floor tile to roofing material to lots of other things you wouldn’t expect. We found enough asbestos in this building in a few different places that we had to take these precautions.”
Bedinger said most of the asbestos in the building is non-friable, which means it is not easily released. Examples of non-friable asbestos products include vinyl asbestos, acoustic ceiling tiles, asbestos cement products and floor tiles, which is one of the places Bedinger found asbestos in the Tribune building. Some asbestos in the building could become airborne, at which time it could present a health risk.
The level of asbestos in the Tribune building does not present a health hazard to nearby residents, Bedinger said.
“We made sure that everything we do is done with the utmost care to ensure the asbestos stays in the area,” he said.
According to webmd.com, asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers. Since its fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used widely in the construction, automotive, and other industries. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibers are released into the air. When they are inhaled, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years.
Health hazards associated with asbestos inhalation include shortness of breath, coughing, lung cancer and Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity or abdomen.
“You’d have to be around a fair amount of asbestos to be affected by it,” Bedinger said. “People who are victims of asbestos have usually been around high concentrations of it for long periods of time.”
Bedinger said he did not believe the firefighters or the demolition workers at the scene were at risk of being exposed to high concentrations of asbestos.
Ross Walker, owner of the Tribune Printing Company building, said he was not aware the demolition would resume today. He said he did not know how long the demolition would last. Bedinger estimated the demolition would take several weeks.
Fairfield Fire Chief Scott Vaughan said he didn’t know what the demolition schedule was, and that the fire department would help at the scene as needed.
On July 23, demolition was abruptly stopped soon after it began that morning because more tests needed to be run on the building. Since that time, no demolition had occurred until today.
Structural problems with the Tribune building were first noted on July 8 when Walker and others saw the suspended ceiling had collapsed in part of the office. Walker said he could see cracks in the walls that day he had never seen before. The north wall had begun to lean into the street. The building was evacuated and law enforcement was called to the scene.
Cross Iron Excavating tore down the north wall that afternoon because it was a public safety hazard. A chain-link fence surrounding the building was erected July 11 to prevent anyone from getting too close to the building in case more of it collapsed. In fact, more of the building did collapse two days later.