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DPS Commissioner Thomas Gatzunis surveys building damage with DPS Inspectors Gordon Bailey, John Bennett, David Holmes, William Horrocks, and Manufactured Buildings Director, Steve Kennealy. 


DPS Assists with Aftermath of Springfield Explosion

            On Friday, November 23, 2012, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner, Thomas Gatzunis, was informed of an explosion that had rocked a downtown section of Springfield.  The blast sent glass, bricks and other debris flying across a congested part of the city.  Fortunately, there were relatively few injuries and no deaths attributed to the incident; the area in and around the source of the explosion had been evacuated about an hour before the blast due to the report of a gas odor.

Commissioner Gatzunis reported to the scene with Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director, Kurt Schwartz at approximately 6 p.m. to help assess initial damage.  Upon arrival they learned that an estimated twelve buildings had suffered significant damage and a dozen more had incurred lesser damage.  Commissioner Gatzunis and Director Schwartz toured the area with Springfield Building Commissioner, Steve Desilets and Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant.  Although the affected zone was thought to be narrow to the 24 referenced structures, drawing on his experience with the 2006 Danvers explosion, Commissioner Gatzunis suggested that inspection teams survey a wider area.   Accordingly, he assembled a team of four DPS Inspectors comprised of Gordon Bailey, John Bennett, David Holmes, and William Horrocks who, along with DPS Manufactured Buildings Director, Steve Kennealy, reported to the scene at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, November 24th.  Working cooperatively with municipal building authorities, teams surveyed 42 buildings in accordance with Applied Technology Council (ATC) techniques.  These techniques, first developed in California to assess building damage following a seismic event, are known as Rapid Building Damage Assessments.  The assessment procedures allow building code enforcement officials, engineers or other qualified individuals to quickly determine whether a building is safe to occupy in whole or in part, is safe to occupy only for brief periods as repairs are made or is simply unsafe and dangerous.  Using this system, inspectors mark buildings following damage assessment by affixing color coded placards in accordance with the system below. 

Green Placard          -           Inspected (No Restriction, safe to occupy)

Yellow Placard         -           Limited Entry (Off limits to unauthorized personnel)

Red Placard              -           UNSAFE (Do not enter or occupy)

            Ultimately, 15 buildings of the 42 assessed were assigned green tags indicating that they were safe to occupy, 24 received yellow tags and 3 were affixed with red tags.   

            Commissioner Gatzunis wishes to thank all those who participated in assessment efforts and extends his most sincere best wishes to all who were affected by the explosion in hopes of a speedy recovery.  Additionally, Commissioner Gatzunis reminds the general public of the DPS Incident Hotline which has been  instituted for reporting incidents requiring the immediate attention of the DPS.  Please contact the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency at (508) 820-1444 to report emergencies involving the following types of DPS regulated activities.

1. Building collapse/failure;
2. Elevators/escalators;
3. Boiler or air tank failure/explosion;
4. Amusement or tramway incidents;
5. Horse carriage incidents;
6. Incidents involving hoisting and excavating equipment.


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Sample Red Tag