On the left: Patrick Capruso is making his ascent. At right, Kristen Olson is practicing a pick-off rescue of of Michael Patino.
Vertical Access recently conducted an in-house industrial rope access training course in preparation for third-party certification or recertification by the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT). As a Level III Rope Access Supervisor with over 17 years experience in the construction industry and a Vertical Access employee since 2011, I took on the role of trainer for the first time.
I am excited to congratulate the following VA staff on SPRAT advancements and recertifications achieved in April, 2018:
- Patrick Capruso – Certified to Level II
- Kristen Olson – Recertified at Level II
- Evan Kopelson – Recertified at Level II
- Kelly Streeter – Recertified at Level III
Certified rope access technicians and supervisors must undergo training and recertification every three years. As part of the training, technicians review basic rope access techniques that we most often use during site work as well as more advanced skills that are less often used, such as passing knots, rope-to-rope transfers, redirects, rebelays and horizontal aid traverse. The training also covers rope rescue techniques and mechanical advantage systems used for hauling or lowering a rescue subject or other load.
Following the training course, Vertical Access brought in an independent SPRAT Evaluator to conduct the evaluation. The evaluation and certification process includes written and oral examinations to test knowledge of safe practices for industrial rope access and an understanding of the equipment and principles involved in rope access work. The main part of the evaluation is the skills test, in which each candidate must demonstrate a broad range of rope access skills.
The rest of our technical staff and their certifications are:
- Michael Patino – Certified to Level I (February, 2018)
- Berta de Miguel – Recertified at Level I (May, 2017)
- Mike Russell – Certified to Level II (August, 2017)
- Kevin Dalton (me) – Recertified to Level III (December, 2016)
What is SPRAT?
SPRAT is a membership organization that promotes the development of safe practices and standards for rope access work in the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond. Vertical Access is a member of SPRAT and has been active in its leadership committees throughout the years.
- Level I Technicians are rope access workers with the appropriate training, skills and qualifications to perform work under the direct supervision of a Level II Lead Technician or Level III Supervisor.
- Level II Lead Technicians are responsible for physically conducting rope access operations and/or safety evaluations of rope access operations, including maintenance of associated access equipment, and are capable of performing all Rope Access Lead Technician duties as assigned in the employer’s rope access work program. To become a SPRAT Level II certified technician, Mike and Patrick were required to complete the evaluation as described above, in addition to logging 500 performing rope access work as a SPRAT Level I certified professional.
- Level III Rope Access Supervisors are responsible for overall rope access operations on site and job site safety. Level III candidates should have current First-aid, CPR, and AED certification prior to evaluation and will have logged at least 1000 hours performing rope access work with at least 500 hours and six months as a SPRAT Level II certified professional.
Over the weekend of June 17th-18th, 2017 I participated in the main frame raising of the Champlain Canal Region Gateway Visitors’ Center in Schuylerville, New York. The building was selected as the Timber Framers Guild Community Building Project for 2016. The timbers were cut to size and much of layout completed in the summer and fall of 2016 but delays in the construction of the foundation pushed the frame raising back until the summer of 2017.
From June 14th-16th volunteers and guild members assembled bents, prepared the worksite and raised the first two bents. On Saturday, June 17th additional volunteers arrived and the remainder of the Gateway Visitors Center frame was raised. The bents were raised “by hand” using an A-frame, that was guyed at two ends, as the focal point for the rigging. Once the frames were rigged, two lines, with about 20 people in each, pulled on the haul lines until the frame was upright and free-hanging. Workers on the deck then guided the posts into pockets in the flooring as the haul teams lowered each bent. The bents were then braced and floor joists installed, connecting each bent to the next. A crane was used to install the tie plates, purlins and rafters while workers straddled timbers or worked form scaffolding to receive each unit. Once each piece was lowered into to place a gang of hammer swingers went to work driving 7/8” or 1” diameter round pegs into the mortise and tenon joinery, tying the frame together. It was a long day but the crew managed to finish raising the main frame just before sunset.
This being my first experience working on a timber framing project I was impressed with the accuracy required in the layout and cutting of joinery. It is amazing how each piece fits perfectly onto the receiving member even when there are multiple connection points along a given unit.
I would be remiss if I didn’t commend project manager Neil Godden for a safe and efficiently run project and acknowledge all of the instructors for their hard work and patience with those volunteers who were unfamiliar with timber framing.
You can read more about the project on the Timber Framers Guild Community Building Project blog.
On a recent trip to Peru I had the opportunity to visit some of the ruins at Chan Chan, located in La Libertad province around the city of Trujillo. Built around 1200, Chan Chan served as the capital of the Chimu Kingdom until falling to the Incas around 1480. The city covered 20 square km, was the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and a monumental example of earthen architecture. At its height Chan Chan is believed to have had a population of around 60,000 people.
Due to the consistency of the swells in nearby Huanchaco, I was preoccupied with surfing for most of my time in the Trujillo area and only visited the Tschudi Complex, a relatively small section of the Chimu city. In all the city consisted of 9 walled citadels, or palaces, so there are several more interesting sights worth visiting.
Preservation efforts at the Tschudi Complex, which is the only section of Chan Chan that has been partially restored, are ongoing. Most of the architectural details are modern recreations though there are a few originals that remain. Due to its geographic location on the northern coast of Peru the ruins are susceptible to erosion from the heavy rains brought on by the El Niño phenomenon so much of the Tschudi Complex is now covered by a protective roof structure, which I found to be interesting in its own way. Upon returning to Huanchaco I immediately recognized some of the same architectural motifs at the Instituto del Mar del Peru, Laboratorio Costero de Huanchaco.
Besides being an important cultural site I think that Chan Chan is also a powerful example of ecological construction. It’s interesting to see how a 500+ year old city constructed of locally sourced, earthen material slowly returns to it’s original form leaving almost no trace of it’s existence. Try to imagine what a modern city will look like 500+ years from now.
Learn more about Chan Chan on the UNESCO website.
I recently attended the opening reception for Feats of Clay: Philadelphia Brick and Terra Cotta, an exhibition on the legacy of Philadelphia’s brick and terra cotta industry at the Harvey and Irwin Kroiz Gallery, The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, curated by Frank Matero.
The exhibit included artifacts from now demolished buildings designed by Philadelphia architects Frank Furness and Cope and Stewardson, brick from works by Louis Kahn as well as examples of some of the cities most underappreciated residential works such as Edgar V. Seeler’s Conkling and Armstrong House in the city’s Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood and the Morris Fleisher Residence designed by Willis G. Hale and located in the Fairmount section of the city.
Featured alongside the architectural works were interesting catalogs, brick samples and maps of past and present Philadelphia area brick and terra cotta manufactories such O.W. Ketchum, Sayre & Fisher Brick Company, McAvoy Brick (which still operates in Phoenixville, PA) and some wonderful examples of the ornamental clay products produced by Peerless Brick Company.
Having trained as a bricklayer since the age of 18, I spent several years working out of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Union (Local 1 PA/DE) in Philadelphia and have grown to love the wonderful brickwork that is ubiquitous in Philadelphia. This exhibit focuses on the city’s long and storied history of brick manufacturing and the architectural masterpieces that resulted and also serves as a stark reminder of the treasures that we have lost.
For those of you who are brick enthusiasts like me, you can find some of these amazing brick and terra cotta remnants of the past for purchase at several architectural salvage stores in and around Philadelphia such as: Provenance Old Soul Architectural Salvage, Philadelphia Salvage Company and Harry Bambi Supplies.
Gallery hours are 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Friday. The exhibit runs through October 9, 2015.
We recently worked on an interesting project at Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. Our mission: to remove the clock hands from four clock faces on the tower of Keating Hall and one clock atop LaLande Hall in Martyrs Court.
The hands were removed and turned over to The Verdin Company so they could be restored. Once restored, the hands will be re-installed. The project was coordinated by Bob Rush with Structure Tone, Inc.
Keating Hall Clock Tower, Fordham University.
Analyzing clock hand mechanics.
Close up of hand attached to shaft.
Successfully removed one hand.
Lowering a hand down to technicians from The Verdin Company.
Lowering of the hand.
Kevin Dalton from Vertical Access with the hour hand.
Tyrell Nugent from The Verdin Company with the minute hand.
The crenellated parapet at the top of the tower on Keating had bird protection on the top of the walls so we had to lower ropes through the crenels and climb up to the clock which was about a 150’ climb from the roof of the main building below.
The clock hands were pretty big; the hour hand was a little over 6’ long and the minute hand was over 7’ long. We rigged all the hands to lower before loosening any of the nuts or bolts that connected them to the shaft.
One of the minute hands was stuck and we had a really hard time removing it. It typically took us 30-45 minutes to remove both hands on each of three out of four faces but we spent over 3 hours on the southeast face on the first day trying to remove the minute hand without success. It was a little over 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the wind was blowing 15 – 20 mph directly into my face so I decided to accept defeat and go get warm before moving onto another set of hands. We came back to the southeast face the next day with a specialty tool provided by Dennis Lindo from The Verdin Company and after a few minutes the hand was free.
We finished up the second day at Martyrs Court which was only about 50’ off the ground but in an area that is difficult to access with a lift. Due to icy conditions on the roof we thought it safer to toss the ropes out to the face of the building and climb up from the ground. After almost 1,000’ of vertical climbing at Keating Hall 50’ was a walk in the park.
When I arrived at the clock face I had the minute hand off in a matter of minutes but the hour hand looked like it might take hours to remove. It was completely rusted onto the shaft and wouldn’t budge. Luckily the entire mechanism is being replaced so Dennis cut the shaft from the inside with a reciprocating saw. The white part of the clock is just a thin piece of glass (probably 1/8” thick) so we had to saw very carefully. Fortunately we were able to keep the shaft off the glass and the hand came off without incident.