Ivan Kristoff: Just call him Spiderman

Ivan Kristoff: Just call him Spiderman

Daily Commercial News Newspaper, page 4, Friday, June 28, 1996
by Janice Walls, Staff writer TORONTO – IvanKristoff has made a career of hanging around high-rises.

Climbing off the city’s rooftops has given the Bulgarian-born Spiderman a unique perspective on safety.

There is too little of it in the window-cleaning and exterior maintenance business, he says, and no group has been set up to respond specifically to high rise emergencies.

Kristoff is trying to change that by founding the  Canadian Rescue Emergency Service Team (CREST), a highly trained group of people who could respond to emergencies. The group would also put together a manual of emergency measures that property managers should follow in the event of an accident.

the Toronto fire department has trained about 200 firefighters in high-angle rescue. And, of course, the department is first to respond in such situations.

But Kristoff said there might be times when it would be more appropriate to call volunteer rescuers like himself provided the emergency services agree.

A case in point was a night this year when a four-meter piece of metal was hanging off the Royal Bank Plaza building in Toronto.

The fire department secured a large area below to ensure no members of the public were injured and waited until the next morning for a crane to be brought in to deal with the dangling metal.

Kristoff was watching the drama on the 11 p.m. news at home.

he believes that had he been called by the property management firm for the building or by the fire department, he could have had the metal secured quickly that night and eliminated risk to the public.

Through his company Eiger Rope Access Work Inc., Kristoff does all kinds of exterior-maintenance work on buildings as well as technical audits for property owners.

He also can do just about anything else that involves climbing down the side of a building or bridge with a video camera and laptop computer.

The kernmentle ropes he uses let him move in any direction- up, down horizontally and diagonally. By hooking his video camera into his laptop computer, Kristoff can present the property owner with a hard copy of what he videotaped or give it to him on disc.

Kristoff’s training in an elite unit of the Bulgarian army before he defected to Canada in 1990 and his experience in mountain rescues have thought him to deal with high winds, freezing weather and even avalanches.

He says of his army experience: “We were trained for “what if?” What if something goes wrong?”

Peter Ramsden, owner of the property-management company Bodiam Management, said that is something industry may not have considered enough. What if there is an accident with a high rise worker on their property?

That’s why he is helping Kristoff found CREST and put together an emergency response plan for building managers.

“There might be something they can do to ease the situation and protect the safety of people or the workers in the area until 911 gets there,” Ramsden said.

when it suspended-access work, Ontario safety regulations were written solely to prevent accidents, Kristoff said.

“There is not one sentence to say, ‘What if an accident happens?”

“They say,’If you do the job right , there shouldn’t be any accidents happen.”

For that reason he is sitting on an Ontario government health and safety committee looking at how to improve regulations for the suspended access industry.

He believes CREST could also play an important role in post-accident investigation, videotaping the accident area so causes can be investigated thoroughly.

Kristoff recalls a friend who died in Bulgaria.

“he was working on a rope and a guy above him was doing welding and all the hot metal fell on the guy and he died, ” said Kristoff.

“Since then I am very conscious about safety.”