Building Trades, Firefighters, raise alarm about contractors' use
 of unsafe lumber

Out-of-state contractors are using unsafe lumber at four large, multi-family residential developments under construction in Minneapolis, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Minnetonka, Building Trades and Firefighters say. 

Dan McConnell, business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, and Chris Parsons,president of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters, spoke at a news conference Monday outside Fire Station 22 in Minneapolis. One of the projects, Lake Calhoun apartments at 3118 W. Lake St., is going up across the street from Station 22, built by Big-D Construction of Salt Lake City.

In addition to the Lake Calhoun apartments, the other projects are:

  • Central Park West, 1511 Utica Ave. S., St. Louis Park/Golden Valley
  • Hello Apartments, 9130-9220 Olson Hwy., Golden Valley
  • Residences at 1700, 1730 Plymouth Ave., Minnetonka

“The lumber being used… violates code requirements with potentially deadly consequences in the event of fire,” McConnell said. “The framing for these projects… is being done with lower-cost lumber that is not properly treated to retard flames. This profit-padding tactic creates a risk that threatens the projects and anyone who inhabits them or is in the vicinity.”

Noted Parsons: “Lumber that does not meet the fire code not only puts the public at risk but puts firefighters at risk as well.”

Lumber that meets flame retardant standards is important to ensure a burning building remains standing as long as possible while firefighters do their work, he explained. “I worry for our members.”

After the Minneapolis Building Trades raised concerns about the sub-standard lumber, someone at offending jobsites recklessly re-stamped the lumber to pass it off as code-compliant, McConnell reported.

The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council collected independent data verifying that contractor Big-D Construction Corp., of Salt Lake City, is using wood framing that is not sufficiently fire-retardant in three of the projects collectively valued in the tens of millions of dollars. The fourth project, led by DLC Construction, of Miami, fell short as well.

In recent weeks, city inspectors in Golden Valley and Minneapolis have given failing grades to the wood used at three of the locations and have directed the contractors to put the brakes on any work at these locations involving this substandard lumber. The same material is being used in another project in Minnetonka.

Article reprinted from Workday Minnesota.