Safety record of contractor for Boise collapsed hangar surfaces as OSHA investigates

Federal work site investigators examining the sudden collapse of a large steel frame under construction near the Boise Airport may need until this summer to determine the cause of the incident that killed three people and injured nine others, five of whom were in critical condition.

City emergency responders Thursday turned over the mangled site located on municipal airport property to Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials so its investigators can take the lead. Two OSHA investigators arrived Wednesday evening, when the engineered steel building and a crane came down, and two more arrived Thursday, said David Kearns, director of OSHA’s Boise Area Office.

The agency’s review could take up to six months, Kearns told the Idaho Statesman in a phone interview.

“It’s likely to be a fairly longer and complex investigation,” he said. “You like to treat them all the same, but if you have a structural collapse, it takes a lot of evidence and deep diving to put the whole puzzle together.”

Engineers from OSHA’s national offices and experts from its Seattle regional office will scrutinize all available clues from construction of the project, including its building plans, all related documents and also interview witnesses. Some of them remain hospitalized, so agency investigators — and the general public — will need to be patient, Kearns said.

OSHA will produce a report from its findings and decide whether to issue any citations to the firms involved in constructing the new hangar for the Jackson Jet Center, he said.

Already, the fatal incident is the deadliest on an Idaho job site in at least a generation, Kearns said. He also couldn’t remember a construction accident with up to nine other people injured since joining OSHA in 1997.

“This is certainly the most Idaho lives that we’ve lost in one incident that I can recall,” Kearns said.

At the construction site, the morning after a support structure collapsed near the Boise Airport, wreckage shows twisted girders with a crane in the center. Three people were killed in the accident, and nine others hospitalized when the frame for a airplane hangar being constructed to the west of Jackson Jet Center collapsed. Darin Oswald/

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean acknowledged the “profound loss” the community is facing after the shocking incident.

“Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones and those who are awaiting news on those still in critical condition,” McLean said in a statement. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our first responders and emergency response teams for their quick, compassionate and professional actions last night and into today and we hold everyone involved in our hearts.”

Construction firm has record of safety violations

Boise architecture firm Glancey, Rockwell and Associates received design review approval through the city in March 2023 for the 45 1/2-foot-tall private hangar. Meridian-based construction firm Big D Builders then applied in May to build the 39,000-square-foot building for Jackson Jet Center and received permit approval in December. The permit was set to lapse in December 2024.

The city’s Building Division has had no concerns or issues with recent inspections of the project, the Boise Fire Department said in a Thursday news release.

But since 2010, Big D Builders has had more than a dozen construction safety violations, most of which were categorized as “serious,” on other projects throughout the Treasure Valley, according to OSHA online enforcement records. The two most recent cases, in 2022 and 2023, related to a lack of proper safety measures in place to protect workers against falls from as high as 2 1/2 stories.

Both projects — one in Meridian, the other in Nampa — involved insufficient worker-fall protections during “steel erection activity,” the violation records showed.

Each case was resolved. The 2022 violation, investigated after a complaint was filed, led to a negotiated $4,315 settlement. The 2023 case, which resulted from a referral, led to a $21,875 fine. The OSHA record does not indicate whether that fine was paid or whether the company met a deadline for abatement.

Big D Builders faced three prior serious fall-protection violations after an OSHA inspection of a construction project in Boise in 2017, the records showed. The company reached a $1,540 settlement, and the case was closed.

Ferd Smith, a project manager and estimator with Big D Builders since 2015, according to the company website, declined to comment Thursday when reached by the Statesman on his cellphone. Company owner Dennis Durrant also was unavailable, he said.

Big D Builders has been registered as a company in Idaho since at least 1996, filings with the Idaho secretary of state showed. Durrant, who listed himself as owner of Big D since 1991, has maintained a contractor registration in Idaho for the company since 2005, according to records of the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. He has no past disciplinary actions against his registration, which is current and doesn’t expire until September.

Big D Builders also operates in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, according to the company’s website. There is no record of any safety violations for the company in those states, OSHA records showed.

‘Looks like a structural issue’

Kearns said he wasn’t concerned with Big D Builders’ safety record in relation to Wednesday’s building collapse.

“What’s happened in the past has little bearing on this,” he said. “On its face, it certainly looks like a structural issue that would lead to something that would cause the whole thing to collapse compared to our prior interactions that were about protecting workers from falls.”

Boise-based Inland Crane, Inc. said in a Thursday statement that it was hired to provide its services for the project and began work Monday to help erect the steel structure with four of its cranes. By Wednesday afternoon, that work was “largely completed,” company Vice President Jeremy Haener said, with just one of its cranes still left at the job site — the crane involved in the collapse.

We are “shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic incident that led to the loss of lives at a construction site in Boise,” he said in the statement. “Based on accounts of Inland Crane operators, construction workers on site, and the steel erecting contractor, we believe that no action by Inland Crane operators or the crane itself were cause for the structural failure of the hanger.”

Wreckage shows twisted girders with a crane where the metal frame of a building under construction collapsed Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, next to the Boise Airport. Three people were killed and nine hospitalized. The building was to be an aircraft hangar for the Jackson Jet Center, which serves private jets and offers charter flights. Darin Oswald/

Kearns declined to say how the 12 people were injured or killed in the incident, citing the open investigation.

In addition to its investigation, OSHA also works to answer any questions and offer assistance to the victims and their families after a construction accident, he said.

“We deal with far too many tragedies, and ultimately the goal is to prevent them before they occur,” Kearns said. “But after a tragedy, we speak to victims’ families and keep them abreast for any questions and comments, and that’s a very important part for us, too.”

Boise Airport’s nearby commercial flight operations continued unaffected Thursday while OSHA’s investigation began in earnest.

“Yesterday’s tragic news of the hangar collapse was absolutely heartbreaking for our airport team and for our community,” Rebecca Hupp, the airport’s director, said in a statement. “Today we are thinking about the families that lost loved ones, our neighbors at Jackson Jet Center, and their contractor.”

Reporter Nick Rosenberger contributed.

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