Crane companies prepare equipment ahead of Tropical Storm Irma - WSMV News 4

Crane companies prepare equipment ahead of Tropical Storm Irma

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When people say Nashville is growing by the day, the number of cranes in the sky help paint the picture.

For a city of its size, Nashville ranks among the top for having the most cranes towering above its growing skyline.

As Tropical Storm Irma barrels into Middle Tennessee, News 4 wanted to know if the cranes be able to weather the storm.

"Every one of us is obviously worried about people and safety first," said Frank Bardonaro, chief operating officer at Maxim Crane Works. "The cranes, we feel, are structurally sound and erected to the manufacturer and the city's requirements for safety.”

Maxim is one of the largest crane companies in the world. The company currently has about 100 cranes operating in the greater Nashville area, including 12 tower cranes.

Under Irma's wrath, cranes in Miami took a hit. They were built to withstand Category 4 winds of 135 mph. Still, unexpected bursts of wind leave an element of vulnerability for the structures.

"The key is no one got hurt," Bardonaro said. "The city of Miami prepared the citizens very well and told them to stay away from these cranes.”

He said Nashville's cranes can withstand winds of at least 95 mph. Each crane is certified according to that state's codes. Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration policies say when a storm moves in a competent person must decide whether to secure the equipment and then adjust it to address the effect of the wind or storm. Bardonaro explained, they're already doing that.

"What we've done to prepare is to ensure that the cranes we have on sight are all in the position where everything is tightened up, tied to the building where it is applicable -- no loose bolts or cables or debris that can fly off the cranes," Bardonaro said. "They're all set up to weather vane and withstand that. Ninety-five to 104 mph winds is what we see as a minimum level for us.”

He said it can a week to take cranes down off a structure, so it can't happen immediately, but they have been adjusting to the forecast.

Crews won't when winds exceed 25 mph in most cases.

"Talking to our competition and other people, we believe that the cranes that are sitting in Nashville are prepared for what at least the NOAA is forecasting that you will see," Bardonaro said.

The Nashville Office of Emergency Management enforced a partial activation of its emergency center Monday evening in preparation for rain and strong winds from Tropical Storm Irma.

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