Workers shore up apartments after firefighterâ??s death

Workers installed these temporary supports to shore up the walkways at the University Village Apartments.

Construction workers shored up the second-floor walkways at the University Village Apartments Sunday after a firefighter died there a day earlier.

Witnesses say Lt. Bruce Britt died after a partially-collapsed walkway gave way beneath him early Saturday morning. Britt was among the firefighters who responded after residents called in to report the walkway was sagging.

Beginning Saturday and continuing through Sunday, workers installed wooden braces in between the columns holding the walkways up. Chris Roberts, a superintendent with 5 Oaks Associates, said his company alone had reinforced the walkways on five buildings. He said his workers installed 120 studs on each building.

University Village resident Debswapna Bhattacharya told KRCG 13 he thought MU has done a pretty good job of taking care of people living there since Saturdayâ??s tragedy. He said he was glad something is being done to prevent further problems while building inspections are conducted.

â??As international students, we are feeling protected, in some sense,â?? he said.

Bhattacharya said the buildingsâ?? age poses a major obstacle in preventing future problems.

â??Unless you evacuate the whole apartment, take the residents somewhere else and then rebuild the apartment, there is no permanent solution,â?? he said.

Bhattacharya said he wants to see the results from the building inspections Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Saturday before he decides whether to move somewhere else.

While crews shored up the walkways at University Village, a procession of police and firefighters escorted Brittâ??s body from the Truman VA Hospital. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday at The Crossing church.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 81 firefighters died in the line of duty in 2012, the most recent year for which solid data are available. Four firefighters were killed in three different structural collapses that year, while one firefighter died as a result of a fall. The USFAâ??s data show more than half of all firefighters who died in 2012 were felled by heart attacks or other maladies resulting from the strain of their work. Collapses and falls accounted for a combined 6 percent of fatalities. Preliminary data indicate 18 firefighters have died so far in 2014 including Britt.