The workers had to be pulled to safety at the casino in Salamanca
Emergency responders had to pull two window washers to safety after their rig broke on the side of a 11-story building.
Tuesday morning began like any other workday for Michael Boop and Felix Velez.
Boop, from Bloomfield, and Velez, from Rochester, work together at North Coast Window Cleaning.
While they were on their suspended stage outside the eighth floor of the Seneca Allegany Casino, there was an issue with the rig."The rig had a little malfunction, the cables got wound up and we got stuck on the side of the building for about 4.5 hours," Boop shared.
Salamanca Assistant Fire Chief Tom Sturdevant said the two attempted a self-rescue before radioing in the issue.
"When we couldn't get it down, you couldn't crank it down [manually], or there's a safety button that lets you come down slowly. We couldn't get that going, that's when we knew something was wrong," said Velez.
At that point, according to the partners, the casino staff immediately launched into action to help, contacting the fire department and working through safety procedures.
"You got to give it to the firefighters and the casino, very strict on safety first. Me, as a window cleaner, that's one thing I carry in my pocket. If I don't see safety, I'd rather shut the job down," expressed Velez.
Sturdevant said his crew was on scene for around an hour and a half. During that time, they used a hauling rig to rappel a firefighter down to the suspended stage to meet Velez and Boop. The firefighter then secured each man to a rescue harness, while the rest of the emergency responders on the roof hauled them up one at a time.
"You don't know what will happen in a split second. What if that rope broke and we went down? All those thoughts went through my mind, those 'what ifs'," said Velez, who focused on the view of the lake and the mountains while he was dangling in midair.
Sturdevant said the two were stranded between the eighth and ninth floors of the 11-story building. It made more sense to haul them up then drop them down to the ground because it was a shorter distance.
While it was the first time his team had to use the gear for a rescue outside of a building, they have had to use it for elevator rescues.
They also use the outside of the casino for practice, rappelling off the building recently for training.