Lifestyle & Human Interest

Window Washers Trapped at 50th Floor after Platform Malfunctions, Call for Help as Storm Rolls In


It was the perfect storm: A window-washing crew was perched on a platform on the 50th floor of a building in downtown Houston, Texas, when the platform malfunctioned and they were trapped.

The mechanical issues prevented the lift from going up or down, stranding them high in the air on Tuesday morning as the weather changed and the thunderstorm cell rolled in.

Many areas in Texas got quite a bit of rain over the past few days, and Houston was due for some rough weather. The forecast and darkening skies prompted the workers to call for help.

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The Houston Fire Department responded, causing quite a scene downtown as they assessed the situation and figured out their plan of attack.

While the fire department was ready and willing to take extreme measures to get the stranded victims down, the first responders on the scene started up communication with the window-washing company to see if the issue could be resolved and the platform could be fixed.

Apparently, they were able to determine that the stage did have power, and after some back-and-forth communication, they were able to get it working again, allowing the workers to safely maneuver the platform to the top of the building and remove themselves.

HFD Senior Captain Mason Mills said that they were ready to move to more intensive efforts involving removing glass windows and getting a rope system set up to get the workers to safety if they had not been able to get the platform working again.

Even though that ended up not being necessary, firefighters still had to bring all the equipment to the scene in case it was needed.

“We were set up to recover them if they couldn’t do that, we were gonna take a window out of the side of the building at the level they were at and just help them off the stage,” HFD Senior Captain Mason Mills told KHOU.

“From a firefighter’s perspective, it’s kind of like, well, we train for the most complex, most dangerous things, and then we don’t get to do that,” he continued in an interview with KHOU. “You know? So … it’s easy.

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“But we always want to do the easiest thing, the least risky thing, both to us and the citizens. So on one hand, yeah, it is a little bit of a relief that we didn’t have to do the hazardous, risky things we train for.”

The Houston Fire Department also posted on social media following the successful resolution of the issue.

“HFD responded to a high angle rescue @ 11:20 am today & safely removed several window washers from a non-working platform (due to inclement weather) @ the 40th floor of 1100 Louisiana,” the HFD tweeted.

“FFs used the tower crane on the building for the rescue. No reported injuries.”

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