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Burned out heat pump causes another evacuation on Pearl Street

Burned out heat pump causes another evacuation on Pearl Street


PEF assists members after smoke condition; makes plans to address evac, emergency procedures

PEF Health and Safety chairs, local leadership, and staff spent the better part of Friday assisting members from four state agencies after smoke filled a space on the fifth floor of 40 N. Pearl St. in Albany, triggering alarms and forcing their evacuation for the second time in just over a week.

PEF learned a burned out heat pump was the cause for the smoke condition.

By early afternoon, most employees had been sent back into the building, with the exception of those from the fifth floor who remain at 625 Broadway. The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) moved employees to its headquarters at 52 Washington Ave. in Rensselaer.

PEF President Wayne Spence said, “This is the second evacuation in a little over a week at this very location. We can only imagine the great frustration and uncertainty our members must be feeling about having to work in this building in its current state. Our members’ safety is an absolute priority and we will remain vigilant until all the health and safety issues at this building are addressed”.

PEF reached out to the state Office of General Services and requested documentation of plans for re-occupancy at the state-owned building. PEF also requested an increase in fresh air intake for the building’s HVAC system when returning employees complained of lingering smokiness.

On December 12, PEF members at 40 N. Pearl were evacuated when a city of Albany water department crew hit an 8-inch gas line, causing a gas leak and rupture, while trying to find a water main and repair a leak.

PEF is setting up meetings with PEF leadership and management from the state Office of Temporary Disability Assistance and with the Office of Information Technology Services to have conversations about emergency evacuation procedures and communications during emergencies. The goal is to improve emergency procedures going forward.

The building at 40 N. Pearl St. is also on the Article 18 Health and Safety Committee’s radar. That committee, which meets quarterly, is co-chaired by Region 8 Coordinator Mike Blue and Region 10 Coordinator Darlene Williams.

“We have been working with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) to address ongoing health and safety issues at 40 N. Pearl that include things such as nonoperational elevators, leaky windows, poor sanitation (mice, associated with improper garbage pick-up schedules), some bedbug incidents, and inconsistent communications between building management and our Health and Safety Chairs,” Blue said. “We have seen much improvement over the last year or so. We are expecting to meet with the state in the near future to discuss the state’s response to the emergencies that have happened over the last week or so.”

Members who want to have meetings on evacuation and emergency procedures are encouraged to reach out their H&S Chairs or the PEF Health and Safety Department at 518-785-1900, ext. 254.