MIDTOWN — Firefighters rescued two maintenance workers dangling on the side of the 46-story Hearst Tower Wednesday afternoon after a mobile scaffolding they were servicing malfunctioned near the building roof, fire officials said.
"They're both sound. They're both safe," said an FDNY source.
Victor Carballo and Stephen Schmidt became stuck at the 44th floor of the building at 300 West 57th Street, and Eighth Ave., about 2:30 p.m. after a motor on the apparatus failed, according to the FDNY and an employee at Tractel, the company that owns and built the scaffold.
Firefighters could be seen on top of the Hearst building — 600 feet over the sidewalk — dangling ropes to the men, who were trapped on the box-like apparatus, but could be seen talking on their cell phones and moving around.
One of the workers suffered from shortness of breath due anxiety of his situation, but the other was unfazed by his predicament, fire officials said.
The FDNY cut a hole in one of the unique double-pane windows just about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, allowing Firefighter Tom Gayron out onto the structure so he could bring the men onto the 44th floor to safety, sources said.
Gayron, a 12-year veteran of the fire department, said that he was used to the dizzying height from his training exercises on the Roosevelt Island tram.
Paramedic Moses Nelson, who has 6 years on the job, told reporters that the men were in good condition and neither men need medical attention.
The daring rescue prompted cops to shut down traffic on Eighth Avenue between West 56th and West 57th streets, snarling Midtown traffic. Officer workers were not being allowed entry to Hearst Tower.
The Hearst Tower was the first major skyscraper to be built after 9/11. The window washing scaffolding was specifically made for the Lord Norman Foster-designed building because of the odd triangle-shape configuration of the windows.
According to the New Yorker, the washing system is comprised of "a rectangular steel box the size of a Smart car, supporting a forty-foot mast and a hydraulic boom arm attached by six strands of wire rope to a telescopic cleaning basket," which "houses a computer that monitors sixty-seven electromechanical safety sensors and switches, and runs around the roof of the Tower on four hundred and twenty feet of elevated steel track."
The scaffolding, which is able to fold around the corners of the building, lost a motor while the two men were servicing the machine and stuck in the folded position, trapping the two workers, NBC New York reported.
About an hour after the rescue, the platform was able to be retracted back to the roof of the building.