Demolition by the book

In a speech in 1948, Winston Churchill famously said: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Quite how he found the time to run a country and win a world war between coining iconic phrases remains a mystery. But that’s a discussion for another day.

The fact is that, in all walks of life, the past helps shape both the present and the future. In politics, in business and in our everyday lives, we look to our forebears for guidance on what to do and what not to do. Or at least we used to.

Gaz Evans (profiled in our Model Maker video) echoed this point on Friday’s episode of The Break Fast Show while talking about how the demolition sector USED to be. An industry veteran, Evans says:

“We learned from the older guys who have done demo jobs 100 different ways and out of the 100 ways picked the best few ways to do certain jobs, and passed the knowledge to us young guys. But now we are not even asked our opinion on jobs, just told this is the way the book says it is done and that is it.”

And there’s the rub. Demolition cannot be done by the book because that book has never been written. It could not be written (trust me; I do it for a living). The subject is too broad and too diverse. It is constantly changing and continually evolving. (It is a cliché to say that no two demolition jobs are ever the same; but I have never shied away from a cliché before and I don’t intend to start now.)

It is like trying to tell Pele, Bobby Moore, Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo how to play football. It is impossible. There are too many variables. Those that truly excel are those blessed with the ability to adapt to the situation in front of them; those that can draw upon a mix of experience and natural ability and aptitude; those that are empowered to express themselves and to respond accordingly.

The chances are that the man (or woman) sat in the seat of a demolition excavator has a greater understanding of many of those in management positions. And while I have nothing but respect for true demolition engineers, there is often a disconnect between the theory on how buildings behave during demolition, and how they react here in the real world.

We ignore the opinion and experience of industry veterans at our peril; and we allow them to leave the industry before they impart their wisdom at potentially enormous cost.