Meet construction's high-wire act

"The Mississauga Business" – Meet construction’s high-wire act

The Eiger team puts on demonstrations at construction shows to stress the importance of safety.

By Mike Beggs, 2000

If Ivan Kristoff were a wild animal he’d be on the endangered species list. The Brampton-based businessman heads up Eiger Rope Access Work Inc., a Toronto-based company of high-rise roping experts who provide a truckload of services to the property management and construction industry, including:

  • tower, bridge and wall inspections;
  • photo/video surveys;
  • aerial photography and video editing;
  • caulking, renovations and painting;
  • masonry, siding and emergency repairs;
  • emergency response and rescue;
  • aerial operations and load hauling:
  • heavy equipment installation;
  • rigging, billboard and vent installing; and
  • remote anchor design and installations.

Are you the property manager of a 37-storey building with icicles the size of Roman Legion swords hanging off the building and threatening the lives of passersby?

Has your building sprung a leak (150 feet up) and you need a quick caulking job?

Do you need to install anchors to haul up heavy equipment during a construction project?

Do you have a dangerous piece of aluminum hanging off one of your buildings and you’re deathly afraid of liability if the piece breaks off?
Kristoff has done all of these types of projects – and a whole lot more.

“We are committed to the success of our customers, and dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of safety, performance and efficiency,” says Kristoff, who recently moved to Brampton. The Bulgarian-born businessman who moved to Canada in 1993 after the breakup of communism a few years earlier, says his team of professionals invented remote rigging systems, rope access equipment and operates with the most comprehensive devices in order to protect your building and peace of mind.”

A new set of health and safety regulations were introduced by the Ontario Ministry of Labour this past month, and Kristoff says it’s critical that any property manager or construction company have a fail safe plan in place should a high-rise problem occur – whether it’s a piece of equipment getting stuck high up a building, or a rescue mission is needed to save someone (like a window washer).

Those procedures and phone numbers usually lead businesses to phone 911, and organizations like the Toronto Fire Department have their own high rise rescue team. But Kristoff thinks his team’s high level of specialized skills and equipment is required for every type of job or emergency.

Ivan Kristoff says the only time he feels fear
is when he’s not in control of a situation.

“It is more crucial than ever to be prepared for the unexpected,” says Kristoff, pointing to the Skyway Bridge accident in St. Catharines in l993 as an example of what can go wrong. Kristoff thinks it’s important to prevent accidents before they happen by implementing safety procedures now.

As for life on a wire, Kristoff says repelling down something as high as the CN Tower isn’t as frightening as it looks and sounds. He uses only the best equipment, closely checked, with the latest safety procedures in place.

He says his team is cost effective and efficient and although he is the subject of TV shows and magazine articles entitled “Living on the Edge,” he says he only takes “well calculated risk.” Kristoff is a member of the Window Washers’ Safety Committee, and started in that profession when he moved to Canada in 1993.

Kristoff says the new government regulations saying that every construction project must have emergency procedures in place is an important step to ensure the safety of workers. But the man who has repelled down 40-storey buildings, (once to kick off a corporate party), and wants to set the Guinness World Record for repelling out of a helicopter some day, says he’s not crazy, or an endangered species.

The man they call “Spiderman” says working high-rise aerial work is thrilling, fulfilling and pays well. Pauline Chen, a reporter at CFTO TV, says: “Ivan and his team are the top high-rise rescue technicians in Canada.”

Kristoff says with more than 12,000 high-rise buildings, and growing building development in Ontario, there is no specially trained urban high-rise rope rescue team to respond efficiently to emergencies in inaccessible places.

Kristoff says he wants to give workers a safer future. He founded the Eiger Highrise Emergency Aerial Response Team (HEART), an independent non-profit organization that consists solely of highly qualified professionals.
“Eiger is about people helping people,” he says. “We relish being in extreme situations and seek every opportunity to exercise our skills.”

Whether it’s stunt work for a movie, helping property managers caulk a leak in a building, or repelling down the CN Tower, Kristoff, will be there with his ropes and high hopes of success.