Firefighters Rescue Window Washers Trapped Outside 65th Floor of Manhattan High Rise: A pair of window washers were trapped on their rig more than 60 stories up outside a high-rise hotel in midtown Manhattan for more than an hour Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said. The washers were working outside Marriott's Courtyard New York Manhattan/Times Square hotel at Broadway and West 54th Street when they became stuck outside the 65th floor at about 1:30 p.m, officials said.
Firefighters were called to the scene and they were able to secure the workers with a rope. They then pulled them to safety at about 2:30 p.m. Video from the scene showed firefighters creating a hole in the window near the scaffolding. Several other firefighters could be seen on the roof of the skyscraper, and they were able to use ropes to pull the rig toward the window. The two workers were then pulled inside.
Louis Merced, a scaffoldng mechanic who helped firefighters with the rescue described the demeanor of the window washers after the harrowing ordeal. "They came off the rig laughing, joking," Merced said. "To them it's not that serious either. They were not hurt."
Merced, who works for the company that manages the scaffolding, said that the men weren't in any real danger and that he had the scaffolding working again before firefighters cut out the window. An electrical issue was blamed for causing the scaffolding to get stuck. Several streets around the building were cordoned off as crews worked.
No injuries were reported, and the entire incident lasted just over an hour. Tom Dembinski, the workers' supervisor at Permasteelisa Group, said the pair was done for the day and on their way back up to the roof when the scaffolding stalled. "A malfunction on the scaffold," he said. "The scaffold shut down, and they were stuck out there...it's the nature of the beast."
The operator of the scaffold, however, criticized the FDNY response and called firefighters' actions unnecessary. "There was no need for the fire department at all," Louis Merced said. "This was overdone." He said the FDNY acted too quickly and that he already had the scaffold active again after a breaker problem caused the stall. "They were not in danger," he said. "It's not like the scaffold was falling. Nothing happened. There was no problem where they were in danger." There is no word on whether the conditions played any role in the malfunction.