CIVIC CENTER — Firefighters cut through windows to rescue two men trapped on a scaffold hanging from the 21st floor of a lower Manhattan building, officials said.
The window washers were stuck far above Reade Street, alongside the Ted Weiss Federal Building at 290 Broadway, when the scaffold appeared to suffer a mechanical failure about 1 p.m., the FDNY said.
"Two employees were indeed out on a scaffold and they were unable to move the scaffold up or down. Basically, they were stuck," FDNY Deputy Chief Dan Donoghue said at the scene.
Firefighters secured the contract workers using ropes and cut through a 21st story window.
''We used a glass cutter," Donoghue said. "We had two panes of glass. We cut one pane, we cut the other pane.''
The workers were not injured, he said.
''They were fine. They were just stuck."
The scaffolding was tested Monday morning before the mishap and has no history of malfunction, a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which manages the federal building, said.
"It has been taken out of service and is currently being evaluated to determine what caused today’s problem and what corrective action is necessary," Renee Miscione said.
The building houses offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Elizabeth Nembhard, 24, watched the FDNY save the workers.
"The firefighters cut the window and pulled the scaffolding closer to let them in," she said.
"The workers walked really slowly and then just disappeared. It was really suspenseful. I started praying to God.''