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Town and Village

Worker is injured when water tank roof collapses

BRATTLEBORO—A subcontractor was injured the afternoon of Sept. 15 when the roof he was dismantling caved in.

Bratteboro Public Works Director Steve Barrett said the worker was using a torch to cut apart the million-gallon steel water tank when “something went wrong and the top dome collapsed.”

Barrett said he couldn’t comment on the man’s name or medical status.

The tank is made of welded steel panels approximately 8 feet by 16 feet and up to half-inch thick.

Barrett said the man worked for All Industrial Services Inc., of Youngstown, Ohio. The company subcontracted with the firm hired by the town to replace the tank located on the campus of World Learning/School for International Training.

The town awarded the water tank project to Statewide Aquastore Inc., of Syracuse, New York earlier this year for just over $900,000, Barrett said. The company will replace the existing steel tank with a steel and glass-infused tank.

The project remains on track, Barrett said. He noted that the contractor is responsible for launching any investigations into the accident.

Barrett stressed that the SIT campus and the town’s water supply were safe. DPW staff had emptied the tank and disconnected it from the town’s water supply earlier in the replacement project, he said.

SIT staff “jumped in to help where they could,” he said, adding that he appreciated their assistance.

Built in 1965, the steel tank services the north end of town. According to Barrett, the tank helps maintain water pressure in the overall municipal water system during emergencies, such as a fire.

The new tank will be constructed from a composite material of glass and steel. The glass’s chemical properties allows it to remain flexible compared to most commercial glass, DPW staff said. As the steel tank expands and contracts in changing temperatures, the glass moves with it, protecting the steel from rusting.

Members of the Brattleboro Fire Department and Rescue Inc., also responded to the scene.

Fire Chief Michael Bucossi said the on-site coordination between all the responders went “perfectly.”

“He had serious injuries, but the removal was straight forward,” Bucossi said.

Responders were prepared to remove the injured man from the tank by lifting him out with ropes or the aerial ladder, Bucossi said, but instead were able to lift him on a backboard through a small access door on the tank’s side.

Rescue Inc. transported the man to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital where he was airlifted to another medical facility, Bucossi said.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #375 (Wednesday, September 21, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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