Firefighters were exposed to asbestos at building collapse

Firefighters were exposed to asbestos at building collapse

Six people were killed and 13 were injured last month when a building under demolition crashed onto a thrift store next door. Since then, investigators and a grand jury have been examining why and how the building collapsed. They have also uncovered disturbing news about the safety of the rescuers who responded to the scene. Fire crews who searched through the wreckage of the building may have been exposed to asbestos.

    Asbestos is a substance formerly used in building materials that is now known to cause cancer. According to news reports, asbestos remnants were found in the building debris. That report comes amid news that before demolition of the building started, an asbestos inspector examined the building and indicated that there was no asbestos in the building. But he did not actually test for asbestos. He told news organizations that there was no reason to take a sample because there was no material that appeared suspicious.

    The revelation that the building had asbestos may create uncertainty for dozens of rescuers. Approximately 125 firefighters were on scene the day of the building collapse, and some of them worked steadily for hours. The city where the collapse happened, Philadelphia, is now examining how many workers were exposed. It sent questionnaires to workers with questions such as whether workers wore protective equipment and gloves on the site. Previously, a fire commissioner said firefighters who went to the collapse scene had not worn protection from asbestos.

    Through a grand jury investigation, other investigations, and likely premises liability lawsuits filed on behalf of people who were injured or killed in the collapse, people who were injured or lost loved ones before or after the building collapse may the answers they need. Premises liability or other personal injury lawsuits are also possible.

    Source: NBC Philadelphia, "Building Collapse Responders Warned of Potential Asbestos Exposure," Harry Hairston, Karen Araiza and David Chang, July 13, 2013

    • Our law firm represents people who have been injured or lost family members in premises liability suits in the Los Angeles Area. Visit our premises liability page for more information.

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