Boston FFs rescue window washers dangling 40 stories in air

The two men were working at a new condo tower when the platform went askew


Sean Philip Cotter
Boston Herald

Two window washers left dangling 40 stories in the air above downtown Boston were rescued successfully, officials said.

The pair was cleaning the windows high up on the swanky new “The Sudbury” condo tower near Government Center when their platform went askew.

The window washers were not in immediate danger because they were harnessed in, but the firefighters wanted to make sure the men would be all right.
The window washers were not in immediate danger because they were harnessed in, but the firefighters wanted to make sure the men would be all right. (Photo/Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Boston Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Brian Tully estimated that the platform might have been cattywampus for 15 minutes or so before someone noticed and called 911. Firefighters — and news helicopters capturing dramatic-looking footage of the dangling rig 40 stories up as they buzzed over downtown — quickly showed up and determined that there wasn’t an immediate danger because the two men were harnessed in and not going anywhere.

“They were telling our guys like, ‘Oh, we got a mechanic coming,'” Tully told reporters. “They were very comfortable.”

But the mechanic couldn’t be there for two hours, so the Boston firefighters figured they’d just make certain everything would turn out fine by getting the pair inside. Tully said they “went through the progressions” of what the options were and figured out they could just remove a window and pull them in.

The whole thing lasted about 45 minutes, Tully surmised.

He said they get calls for people stuck high up periodically, but most amount to nothing — it’s usually just a bystander misunderstanding what they’re seeing. But, “There’s several a year that are actually like this,” where firefighters have to carry out a rescue.

The two window washers are just fine, fire officials said. The pair refused medical care, and were left with nothing more lasting than a story that the next time they go to the bar will make them a good hang.

The Sudbury tower is the first completed part of the huge Bullfinch Place project, which ultimately will involve taking down the hulking Government Center garage and replacing it with a phalanx of new buildings. The lux condo tower has been occupied for more than a year, and its taller sail-shaped sibling, the One Congress office tower, is nearing the completion of its facade.

Much of the garage — a small part was rehabbed and will be part of the final product — is being taken down, with the bulk that hangs over Congress Street due to go by the end of the year. A worker demoing one part of the structure fell to his death just a few weeks ago.

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