According to Chris Palmer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, after receiving a complaint by a neighbor, Philly L&I officials visited 2136 Market Street and deemed the structure safe to continue work.
Many would be surprised to know that L&I inspectors are not engineers, have no engineering backgrounds, and receive no formal training on the structural integrity of structures and buildings. How do I know this? In 2009, I sued L&I (and won) on behalf of a developer whose property was wrongful demolished by L&I. At issue in the case was the arbitrary nature in which L&I declares buildings “unsafe” or “imminently dangerous.” (The case is Bullard v. City of Philadelphia in case anyone is interested in googling it and reading about it .)
The L&I inspector, who made the demolition decision, testified at his deposition that L&I inspectors are not required to be engineers, to have engineering backgrounds, receive no training on the structural integrity of buildings and structures and L&I maintains no manuals as to when a building is deemed in danger of collapse. Instead, L&I inspectors rely on common sense he said.
More than common sense is needed to prevent the next tragedy.