Lifting You to New Heights

Allegheny Crane & Rigging

Shortly after 6:38 a.m. on January 28, 2022, Kyrk Pyros, President and CEO of Allegheny Crane & Rigging of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania received an emergency call.

The snow-covered, 446.9 foot-long (136.2 m) Fern Hollow Bridge, connecting three east-side Pittsburgh neighborhoods, had collapsed. Down in the 150-foot-deep ravine in Frick Park was a Pittsburgh Regional Transit bus, four vehicles, and 10 people needing to be rescued.

By 8:30 a.m. Pyros and his crew had managed to get them all out safely with ladders and man lifts. Then came the challenge of rigging and lifting the vehicles, including the 22-ton articulated bus composed of two buses with an accordion connector, the last to be lifted on January 31.

“We designed the lift as a team, we rigged the vehicles, and we worked around the clock to get them out,” Pyros says. He served as lift director for the 400-ton crane, which required 308,000 pounds of counterweight to make sure it did not tip over, and as the “eyes” for the crane operator who could not see the bus.

“And the bus drove away.” When recalling the heroic rescue, Pyros is matter of fact and low-key. “When a bridge collapses and everything gets screwed up, people call us because that is what we do, and we do what no one else will do.”

The Fern Hollow Bridge collapse and rescue, however, did shine a national spotlight on Allegheny Crane & Rigging, with live national news reports, front page coverage on several magazines, and an award, one of many the company has earned in its tenure.

Company growth
As a student, Pyros opened his own construction company, KP Builders Inc, which paid his way through Pennsylvania State University and which now, with 22 employees, he continues to operate as a residential, commercial, and industrial construction company.

Invested in his company’s growth, he recognized the benefits of crane ownership, and so in 2002 acquired Allegheny Crane Rentals, then a small company with three cranes ranging from 15-ton to 40-ton capacities.

Since then, Pyros has increased the fleet to more than 20 cranes of various capacities and capabilities. Among them are the 400-ton Liebherr, the 450-ton Tadano, and the 550-ton Liebherr, which Operations Engineer Victoria Mavrogeorgis refers to as “the queens of the fleet.”

Then there are the specialized cranes capable of working in difficult-to-access places. For example, the strong but agile Spyder Crane can squeeze into tight areas where one might assume a crane couldn’t fit and can be used to lift bundles of drywall or similar inside a building. There is also the SkyTrak Telehandler and the 5-7.5 Gantry Crane, each fulfilling unique needs.

With the acquisition of more cranes came the need for more staff, which now number 18 and include licensed crane operators, riggers, and welders with years of experience, a few having been with Pyros since the beginning. “Victoria is a great success story and a hero as well,” he says, recounting how she interned with Allegheny Crane, obtained her rigging license, and returned to work for the company as Operations Engineer and Safety Director. “They are a highly skilled team that works together, and our job is to find a solution, with ‘no’ never being an option. If we fail, someone dies,” Pyros says.

With this in mind, Allegheny Crane uses its own proven safety training in addition to industry standard training, including OSHA 3 for the construction industry, SafeLand USA, OSHA Rigger II, and NCCO certification. Team members, says Pyros, are experts in risk mitigation with crane and rigging operations, and employ Job Safety Analysis to identify and communicate possible risks.

Comprehensive construction services
Approximately 50 percent of the company’s business is in the construction sector, with several divisions whose services range from crane rentals to partnering with KP Builders to offer clients turnkey solutions and a finished product from a single bid.

Company representatives looking to rent a crane will first meet with Mavrogeorgis who will collect all the information as to the size and scope of the project and enter it into the Lift Simulation program, making sure there aren’t any unforeseen problems.

In addition to lifting building materials such as roofing materials, drywall, roof trusses, and steel beams, specialized equipment can be engineered to lift HVAC units onto the rooftops of buildings 25 floors high, place transformers through doors and windows, and even lift a smaller crane onto a building to pick up a transformer from inside a room.

The company also offers a full line of crane services to the oil and gas industry in the Marcellus and Utica shale gas areas and has been involved in numerous projects including wireline and coil-tubing operations.

Additionally, Allegheny Crane maintains a tactical de-construction division capable of dismantling and removing large structures in tight areas where the margin of error is zero, and an excavating division focused on heavy highway, commercial, and residential excavation.

Emergency response services
These construction services tell only half the story of Allegheny Crane & Rigging, with the other half focused on some breathtaking emergency responses. This part of the business evolved after Pyros trained in urban search and rescue missions and began responding to emergencies in the greater Pittsburgh area.

There were several freight train derailments which Allegheny Crane dealt with, taking great care to prevent leakage of hazardous substances; an occupied building collapse; a passenger bus which fell into a sinkhole; an incident at the Pittsburgh International Airport when a Delta Airlines plane slide off the taxiway and the company’s 400-ton crane brought it back undamaged; and of course, the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse.

Since its reputation for reliability, meticulous planning, and successful operations has spread, Allegheny Crane has been called to go further afield and will respond to emergencies within a five to six-hour range of Pittsburgh. The team has traveled to Indiana where a grain silo was on fire; to Florida and South Carolina to clean up hurricane damage; as far north as Toronto; and to Washington, DC to rescue a woman buried beneath the rubble of a six-story apartment building.

As he is in most of the company’s emergency operations, Pyros was front and center. “My crew sent me up in a man basket. I was hanging by a hook and dug from the top. Once I got the rubble off the refrigerator which had protected her from being crushed and moved it, we were able to lift her up and get her out. She was injured but she lived. I’m the one who goes up first,” he shares. “I go up in the basket and I do the first part before handing it over to the guys. I do put myself in harm’s way, ahead of everyone else, because if someone’s going to get killed, it’s me.”

Pyros is far from reckless, however. “Before we do any rescue, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it, and we have a third party who checks our work. So yes, it is intense and done at a really fast pace, but we do plan carefully, and the crew has undergone a great deal of training. That’s why I trust them with my life.”

Giving back to the community
As if saving lives is not enough, Allegheny Crane & Rigging extends its concern to the wider community with regards to environmental concerns, medical services, and family development.

The company strives to leave every site it works on as clean as it found it and maintains equipment to the highest standard to reduce the possibility of leaks or spills. However, if despite its best efforts such an event does occur, each crane carries a spill kit with an operator trained in its proper use. In addition, a variety of weight dispersion methods are used to ensure ruts or cracks are not left in asphalt or concrete, eliminating costly repairs and damage to the environment.

Allegheny Crane & Rigging has partnered with the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital Foundation, Four Diamonds, which is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer, THON, and the Neighborhood Resilience Project. As Pyros says, “we believe no child should have to suffer from cancer, and we support building strong families in the Pittsburgh community. We have a Children’s Hospital crane and we donate 10 percent of its earnings to the hospital where there’s a wing named after us,” he shares.

“We believe in giving back and we firmly believe in making society and the world a better place every time we touch it.”

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