Fire-damaged warehouse – Crows Nest Development
- Location Crows Nest
- Duration 12 weeks
Sentences and Snaps by Daniel Green
Right now, if you travel westbound on Falcon Street, on your left just past the Caltex, you’ll notice a pair of Perfect 35t excavators scraping up the remains of a dilapidated, abandoned and fire-damaged warehouse. A 2000 square metre dilapidated, abandoned and fire-damaged warehouse.
Perfect Senior Supervisor Puni Lio had just twelve short weeks to level the structure for handover. After distinguishing himself at Downer’s Wiley Park Station demo, Puni was fairly sure with some lateral thinking, a good team and solid support he could get it done. Would it happen to schedule? Well that’s the million dollar question.
Give Me An Honest Assessment
For some time the building had been used as a shelter for people without homes. Perfect appreciates that some of us have more difficulties in life than others, so it was with a heavy heart that we approached at 7am on the first day. Fate had predetermined that we would find the site empty and so Puni and the boys made short work of setting up for the three month operation. What wasn’t on our side was the fire damaged [read: gutted] super six roof, its unstable steel trusses, the disintegrating lime mortar in the brick facade and 500 tonnes of rubbish stacked to the ceilings.
Puni and PM Hisham Tarish walked the site and made a thorough assessment to determine the integrity of the structure. Parts were completely safe and other were in danger of collapse so the following plan was formulated:
- Rubbish. Using the S70 Bobcat, the 24t and a slew of skips, complete the waste removal. Segregate what could be recycled and dump the rest. Any rubbish in the unsafe red zones would be dealt with later.
- Make safe. Render the red zones safe to be able to complete the hazmat removal. Finalise the rubbish removal from those zones with aforementioned machinery and skips.
- Hazmat removal in friable and non-friable conditions.
- Demolition. Hand demolish the collapsing facade walls, mechanical demo the remainder of the building including craning out beams and lintels.
The very next morning he mobilised the men & machines and got down to Operation Cleanup. Armed with three operator/labourers, the little skid-steer, a Volvo 24t with grabs and 30m3 skips on cycle Puni set up a waste removal production line. In the mean time a B-Class hoarding and scaffold was constructed around the site. By the time the dust settled three weeks later, Perfect had pulled seventy 30m3 skips of junk out of there. We recycled what we could but ultimately the fire and the ensuing exposure to the elements had ruined almost anything of value.
Now that things were clearer, a more detailed assessment of the structure was done to determine the best way to complete the ACM removal. Hisham, Puni and Perfect Founder/Director Matt Jedruszek walked the site, got across the fine details and scoped out a methodology.
Because the ACM was both friable and non-friable, a bubble was erected. All ACM removal was to be done by hand atop a mobile scaff, which meant additional braces had to be installed so that the unstable facade walls wouldn’t move. With the winter days passing in spades Puni spearheaded the operation and got the scorched Super Six down, encapsulated and sent away in skips. This phase alone took a full month, not just because of the volume of material but because of the physical limitations of the job: the height of the roof, the distance to the skip and the instability of the building itself. When it was all said and done 2000m2 of asbestos material was processed at Bingo’s Eastern Creek facility. With air monitoring and testing deeming the site ACM free, Puni then set his sights forward.
Moviegoers think demolition is simple. And quick. Those is the game know that it’s very procedural. And strategic. If the work is vanilla then you’re doing it right. The challenges on this job lay in:
- the brick facade and its disintegrating mortar vs. the proximity of the neighbouring buildings.
- the hand dismantling of the steel roof trusses and the building’s subsequent re-bracing.
- the concrete lintels and beams that weighed in at more than 8t apiece.
With all of this in mind, Puni and Perfect Operations’ Franky made the call to expand the fleet. Soon the floats arrived bearing Swedish and Japanese gifts: 2 x 35t Volvo’s, 1 x 5t Kubota and 1 x 3.5t Yanmar.
It’s Just A Facade.
This had to be demolished by hand to protect neighbouring properties from wayward masonry missiles. Except some of the levels were over 45 courses high, meaning mobile scaff, buckets and barrows. Like with the ACM, the physiological makeup of the building was working against everyone. Additionally, Puni had to brace more of the structure as they went.
All Trussed Up
When they’d had determined the collapsing facade was no longer a hazard, Hisham and Puni their attention turned to dismantling the skeletal remains of the roof structure. Because the trusses were were tied in, their removal meant weakening the entirety of the building, such that extensive propping was installed for restrengthening. The steel frames were oxy cut into manageable lengths so that it could be sent out for recycling. This phase alone yielded twelve 18m3 skips of good quality, high-carbon steel.
Lintels and Beams
The initial 1950’s build design called for concrete encased beams and lintels which tipped the scales at more than 8t each. When the time came for their removal Perfect subbied out the lifting work. Even if the structure could bear 35t of Volvo’s finest tracking across it, at full reach its lifting capacity was 2t short. Brimming with confidence after their 500t crane full reach lift at our Birrong Station staircase demo, we contracted Borger Cranes. They rolled in with a 250t Liebherr that plucked those beams from their home like blocks from a game of Jenga [one of those anticlimactic games of Jenga where nothing collapses]. With the lintels and beams removed and repurposed, Puni moved onto the final, and perhaps his favourite phase: the full demo. To help him out the Volvo 30t was floated in bringing the grand total to 124t of raw excavating power.
All Out Of Excuses
All the controls were in place so there was nothing left to do but follow the Perfect motto. And Get It Done We Did. With detailed methodologies, a strategic operation and mechanical might. For the next month labourers stripped windows and fittings while excavators pulverised virgin slabs under the bright white mist of automated dust suppression. Thousands of bricks were stockpiled near mile-high webs of twisted rebar. Starting from the west and heading east, they chewed through the seventy year old brick and concrete building like bright yellow metal dinosaurs. Eventually, they were down to the ground floor and in one final groan it was collapsed in on itself.
We Sure Did
By the time the dust had literally settled we had pulled out thirty-eight 15m3 skips and 31 ten wheelers of rubble. Not to mention the COVID scare which involved and site-wide shutdown, deep cleaning, scores of tests and a handover still on time.
If you ask Puni what his favourite demo is it won’t be Number 57 Falcon Street. But if you ask him which job kept him on his toes it most certainly will.
He Got It Done.
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