The Bank of Lisbon Building was one of the world’s tallest buildings ever to be imploded. Image: Supplied
The Bank of Lisbon Building was one of the world’s tallest buildings ever to be imploded. Image: Supplied

SA demolition company knocks the competition out of the park at international awards

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Nov 21, 2020

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They took down one of the giants of the Joburg skyline and now Jet Demolition has soared to new heights. The South African demolition specialist, based in Randburg, was recently named ‘Best of the Best’ at the World Demolition Awards (WDA) 2020. In addition to winning the Explosive Demolition category, the company beat top competitors from the US, Canada and Australia. Both awards were for the successful implosion of the 108-metre-high, 31-storey Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg in November last year,

The building was not only the tallest reinforced concrete-frame building ever imploded by Jet Demolition, it was the seventh tallest concrete-framed building ever imploded in the world. The Bank of Lisbon building housed the Health and Human Settlements departments. It was imploded after a fire broke out on the 23rd floor in September 2018, in which three firefighters died.

This is the first time that the company has won the ‘Best of the Best’ Award, placing it in the top tier of demolition experts globally. The awards are part of the annual World Demolition Summit organised by KHL group magazine Demolition & Recycling International, in co-operation with the European Demolition Association and the National Demolition Association of the US.

The company is, however, no stranger to winning awards. In 2019 Jet Demolition won in the Recycling and Environmental category for the safe decontamination and demolition of three redundant gold and uranium complexes; in 2018 it won in the Industrial Demolition Category for the demolition of a coal-fired boiler and ancillary equipment at Duvha Power Station in Mpumalanga; and in 2017 it won for its innovative implosion of the 14-storey HG de Witt Building in Pretoria.

Respected industry figure William Moore, one of this year’s judges, said: ”I think it was the toughest job ever entered.”

Some of the unique challenges included having the closest building a mere 8m away. The fact that the Bank of Lisbon building was fire-damaged posed a greater risk.

Jet Demolition co-founder Liz Brinkmann said for them it was about more than just winning.

“It does not get better than this as far as industry recognition goes. But it is not only about recognition. What makes Jet Demolition so special is how our team inspires each other to be their very best. It is a reminder yet again that we as South Africans can achieve amazing things when we all stand together. We need to remember that and continue to be motivated by it, especially during these difficult times,” she said.

Jet Demolition contracts manager Kate Bester said some buildings could be toppled in just one day while others, especially those in residential areas, could take up to months to be reduced to a heap of rubble.

“Our primary point of departure will always include a comprehensive risk assessment. The findings of the risk assessment will then guide appropriate risk responses in order to eliminate and mitigate the risks as best as possible,” she said.

And for those who have always wanted to know what it takes to bring down a skyscraper, Bester said the demolition activities are loosely grouped into four main categories – abatements of hazardous materials and preparatory works, selective conventional demolition, mechanical demolition and explosive demolition. But as they say on TV, don’t try this at home.

The Saturday Star

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