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Investigating The Dangers Of Older Glass Windows

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- When Michael Racky leaned up against a storefront window, the window gave way.

Shards of glass cut him like a knife, killing the 52-year-old father.

"I have to wake up every day realizing I will never see him again," says daughter Meghan Racky.

That store front window was broken and the crack was held together with tape. That's a no-no and a big safety hazard.

"This is a dangerous situation," says window expert Mark Meshulam.

Meshulam says any broken window -- especially in older buildings like those in Pittsburgh -- can pose a risk. When he checked out windows in downtown Pittsburgh he found several broken windows in the City County building.

"I think if there's enough wind, and just right rattling, that one piece could break free and it could take flight," remarks Meshulam while looking at a cracked pane of glass in the first floor window.

Back in 2012, glass from a window on the eighth floor of the City County Building fell out and came crashing down onto Grant Street.

"The glass is cracked but we have greater safety issues where whole panels are falling out of buildings," says Mike Gable with the city of Pittsburgh.

We brought the broken window issue to the attention of the city of Pittsburgh. Gable says the city is responsible for close to 300 buildings and they have one person who fixes the glass. City officials tell KDKA they don't deem the nine broken panes of glass we found to be an emergency.

"Well I can't say that, there are work orders. I can't tell you if there are work orders for all nine panes of glass, but our facilities people are aware of it and we will do the best we can to get them replaced," Gable said when asked if they would be fixed any time soon.

Over at the county courthouse, there were several broken windows as well. The county is responsible for the windows in more than 120 main buildings, including the courthouse, which dates back to 1888.

"Just in the past two years, we have spent $12,000 just for the glass," says Doug Nolfi, Director of Facility Maintenance for Allegheny County.

After informing the county of the broken windows at the courthouse -- the building was inspected. One window was fixed immediately. Some of the windows are so old, the glass needs to be specially ordered.

Officials with the city and county say both buildings are currently being evaluated from top to bottom on how to make them more energy efficient, and that could include new glass for every window.

City and county officials say they do inspect their buildings on a regular basis looking for problems, but they rely on the public and employees to report issues.

To report broken glass in a county building you can call 412-350-INFO. In the city - dial 311 or 412-255-2621.

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