Wall Collapse During Construction

Yesterday, I received a few pictures and some information on a near miss from a wall collapse from a buddy that works full-time in the concrete arena and is also a volunteer firefighter.  Below are some of the specifics of what happened along with a few pictures.  We will share more if it adds knowledge about the hazard.

First, in the picture below you will see a concrete wall with what looks like some structural elements (in white). My first thought was there used to be a garage door, but actually this section was slated to be taken out for a garage door.  The contractor was tasked with pouring a driveway approach, but didn’t want to take the wall out yet because the new garage door was not on site yet.

The contractor wanted to take out the bottom layer of cinder blocks so the concrete approach could be poured in one continuous stretch.  They worked with the property owner to find building plans to ensure the wall was tied to structural members on both sides.  The property owner was adamant it was tied, but in hindsight they were trusting previous inspectors and builders because no identifiers of ties could be seen.



The contractor started knocking out the bottom row of cinder blocks from the inside of the structure.  With one block to go they took a sledgehammer to the final block in the center of the wall.  Immediately, the wall collapsed and fell outward unexpectedly.  Luckily nobody was standing outside the wall and luckily the wall fell outward.

photo 01Afterwards, the crew looked at the structural frame of the remaining walls and found no ties that supported the wall that fell.  Close call for contractor crew – absolutely.  We talked about a couple of things relating to if this was a fire scene.

  • What if we had to breach this wall?  If we put a triangle hole in it, would it fall?
  • What if a car or tractor would have bumped this was even slightly? Actually, we were surprised the wind didn’t blow it down already.
  • What about a hose stream banging on or near this wall?

photo 92This incident is another eye opener to the collapse potential we can see.  This one wasn’t even obvious in  daylight with plenty of time to plan.

Pass it on!