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Pacific Blasting & Demolition Uses Experience on Complex Projects

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Pacific is dedicated to preserving the highest levels of safety, productivity and professionalism.

When working on large, high-profile projects, there is extra pressure because more eyes are on any contractor involved. Pacific Blasting & Demolition understands this well, but takes pride in handling any project’s complexity or size. In fact, the bigger and more difficult the better, because with 65 years of experience, Pacific Blasting & Demolition knows it has the skills and expertise on its staff to deliver what clients require. 

“We are very experienced at what we do,” says Vince Alvernaz, vice president and general manager of the demolition division. “We may not have a reputation for being the cheapest company out there, but we do have a reputation for always getting the job done. We are usually hired for large, high-profile projects, and we deliver our work safely, on time and on budget. We tend to gravitate toward complex projects.

“We go complex because our team likes the challenge,” he adds. “That is our specialty. We like to think we’re capable and it’s more exciting work, always having a challenge in front of us.”

Based in Burnaby, British Columbia, and Edmonton, Alberta, Pacific Blasting & Demolition has crews working in remote and challenging locations all over western Canada. Pacific’s demolition division promises its crews and equipment are available on short notice, regardless of the project’s location. Pacific is dedicated to delivering the highest level of safety, productivity and professionalism. Additionally, its innovative techniques and advanced technology help clients to save time and money. 

The company is part of NorLand Limited, which consists of 15 specialized businesses working together toward common goals. Pacific offers a wide range of demolition services including asset recovery and deconstruction, cutting and coring, environmental remediation, ground-penetrating radar scanning, hazardous materials abatement, heritage preservation, industrial demolition, marine demolition, recycling, selective demolition and structural demolition.

Tough Environments

When Alvernaz says that Pacific prefers challenging and complex work, those challenges can come in all shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t deter the Pacific team. At the Vancouver International Airport, Pacific was contracted to remove the top portion of a decommissioned control tower while leaving the lower portion intact and available for future retrofit. Not only did Pacific have to work in and around air traffic of the airport, but it also had to perform its job over occupied tenant space. 

This project required extensive protection of the roof over the occupied tenant space, as well as decommissioning an existing elevator so a tower crane could be erected in its shaft. The shaft required for the crane, however, was located adjacent to another active elevator. Pacific also had to drill through the concrete control tower to bolt structural steel in place for the installation of a scaffold deck, which was used for access and material collection. Pacific’s crew completed all of the major work on evening and night shifts to avoid disrupting the airport’s operations. Alvernaz notes this work was completed on schedule and without incident, which demonstrates the technical skills of his team.

“The control tower was a challenging project,” Alvernaz says. “It’s not that the work itself was tough, but the environment was. We had to keep up our work of removing this structure, but almost be unseen so the airport could continue its operations and not affect the passengers, baggage staff and all of its other operations.”

A couple of years ago, Pacific worked on a marine demolition project on Port Metro Vancouver property. The company had to demolish a decommissioned wharf and building, part of which was over the water. The work involved hazardous materials assessment and removal, disposal of machinery, disconnection of utilities, engineered demolition procedures and final clearing of the site. With quality plans and procedures in place, Pacific ensured all materials were contained and the sensitive marine habitat below was protected throughout the project. 

“This building was over a hundred years old,” Alvernaz says. “It was a tight space to work in, but we got it done. We had another project on an old grain elevator building at the port. We had to remove the grain elevator, but there was operating facilities on three sides of it. There were other grain elevators functioning to the east, a loading facility to the north and a container yard to the west. There was an overpass roadway to the south, so this wasn’t easy but we got it done.”

Teamwork and Planning

To complete all of its work on time, on budget and safely, Alvernaz says Pacific needs “a happy and productive team” and extensive plans. He explains Pacific’s culture is strong because the team gets along well with each other and everyone knows how to balance a safe project with quality production. Additionally, having a complete team of estimators, project managers, safety officers and field inspectors helps the projects stay on target. 

“With the right team, the whole thing is planning,” Alvernaz says. “We have a supervisor on site doing risk assessment and outlining the project hazards and then creating a workplan around that. All of the field workers have task-related forms to fill out to ensure they have seen everything they need to, and to ensure the foreman doesn’t miss anything. 

“We also do a lot of preplanning before we even get started,” he continues. “We do a detailed engineering plan for the demolition and sequencing for the project. But it’s also about looking at all the other factors we’re involved with, such as trucking of materials – that needs a plan. When we were working on an active port, we had to deal with a lot of commercial traffic, manage access and manage environmental controls for the dust and all the related materials that come up. It’s really all about the preplanning to do the job correctly.”

To ensure safety on every project, Pacific holds weekly site meetings and daily start-up meetings. This is another part of the preplanning, Alvernaz says, where the project’s tasks are detailed, engineering plans are set, the safety officers do a risk assessment and put all of the plans on site for the field workers. This involves information on the nearest hospital, how emergency evacuations will be handled and how a high-angle rescue should be performed. 

Pacific has crews working in challenging locations all over western Canada.

“We plan all of the potential risks and mitigation plans supervisors may need to deal with,” he adds. “All the proper forms and checklists are there. Once we are on a project and start the physical work, we do more daily field assessments on work that is upcoming, look ahead at the schedules and implement more task-specific safety procedures as the project progresses. It is a constant evaluation of the project to maintain safety. It’s not like starting from scratch all the time, but things don’t always react the way you expect because of the original construction techniques or materials used. It’s about doing real-time assessments and being prepared to go in a different path if needed.”

Pacific always is looking for new equipment that’s available to help its staff and make jobs safer. Alvernaz notes robotics are starting to be bigger in demolition, as well as ergonomics. Jackhammers, for example, are smaller and more compact and they look more like a robotic skeleton that workers can slip into. He says this alleviates pressure on the worker’s body and is safer to operate. 

“We are nothing without our people,” he stresses. “We want to keep them safe and happy and going home every day to their families. I’m really proud of the people we have – they enjoy what they do and enjoy coming in. It’s great to have built a productive team with great team members.” 

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