A dramatic rescue operation was needed to save Wednesday two window washers workers trapped near the top of the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City into a large metal basket lift spinning out of control as lowered by a crane from the top of the 50 story building, 260-meter-tall office tower.
Their lift got caught in high winds. Video showed the lift hitting the side of the building hard enough to break windows. Multiple windows were broken sending shards of glass falling to the ground below. Firefighters were able to secure it and get the workers to safety after about 45 minutes. Benny Fulkerson, spokesman for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said there were “scary moments” before firefighters rescued the workers by lowering ropes from the roof. Fire battalion chief Benny Fulkerson described the rescue effort as “tedious” but successful. It was a very dangerous situation.Paramedics checked the workers out but they refused treatment. Firefighters concluded the that the lift malfunctioned.
Devon Tower at the time of incident
The cause of the incident is under investigation. Dedicated crew of workers who perform windows cleaning on skyscrapers are well trained. The technology became sophisticated. A variety of mechanisms were developed to allow window-washing platforms to be suspended from rails or tracks atop a building roof, and to move up or down. Most windows will be washed twice a year and the work continues to be done by hand even if automated cleaning robots are tested.