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City of Aurora says investigation into HVAC system collapse will fall solely on Gaylord Rockies

In a statement, the City of Aurora said its building division in the Public Works department is "limited in its authority over incidents on private property."
gaylord rockies resort HVAC system collapse
Posted at 3:47 PM, May 09, 2023

AURORA, Colo. — In a statement, City of Aurora officials said the investigation into the heating and ventilation system (HVAC) collapse at the Gaylord Rockies will fall solely on the resort.

Six people were injured when mechanical equipment came crashing down into the pool area. Two people were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

There were around 50 to 100 people in the resort's pool area at the time of the collapse, according to the Aurora Fire Department. Eight Aurora firefighters were at the property conducting training at the time, and were able to respond quickly.

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The City of Aurora said in a statement to Denver7 its building division in the Public Works department is "limited in its authority over incidents on private property."

More than 60,000 inspections were completed before the resort opened in 2018, according to the city. After a facility is opened, "it is the property owner's sole responsibility to address ongoing maintenance and operations issues on the property," city officials told Denver7.

"We appreciate the follow-up questions about the traumatic incident at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center on Saturday. We remain in touch with Gaylord management as they navigate this difficult situation.

Regarding the response to the incident, Aurora Fire Rescue (“AFR”) provided care to the six injured patients and ensured the scene was secure. AFR is not equipped and does not have the authority to determine the cause of the structural failure that occurred.

The city’s Building Division in Public Works is similarly limited in its authority over incidents on private property. While it completed more than 60,000 inspections at the resort prior to the facility’s opening in 2018 to ensure compliance with the International Building Code (“IBC”), it is the property owner’s sole responsibility to address ongoing maintenance and operations issues on the property. Consequently, it is the property owner’s responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation involving professional engineers and other experts to understand what caused Saturday’s structural incident.

Once the investigation has completed and Gaylord determines the next steps, they will be required to apply for city permits and submit detailed plans developed and signed by licensed professionals to complete any new work or necessary repairs. The city’s Building Division will review and issue the appropriate permits and conduct follow-up inspections to ensure the work meets all IBC requirements."

The Gaylor Rockies is responsible for an investigation into the cause of the collapse. Any new work or repairs would require city permits and follow-up inspections.

In a statement, RK Mechanical, one of the contractors that installed equipment at the resort during its construction, said it is cooperating with the investigation into the cause.

"RK Mechanical was one of the contractors that installed mechanical equipment at the Gaylord Rockies Resort during its construction roughly five years ago. We are and will continue to cooperate with local authorities, the Gaylord, and other contractors to determine the cause of this accident. In the meantime, our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this unfortunate event, and we are here to help in any way we can."

Our partners at The Denver Post report that the resort will hire a private contractor to investigate what happened.

Marriott International, which owns the Gaylord Rockies, said in a statement on Sunday it is "working with the appropriate experts do conduct a thorough investigation."

"We are devastated by this traumatic incident. On Saturday, our top priorities were to support emergency responders and render assistance to those directly impacted, and we’re very grateful to the Aurora Fire Department for their swift actions. Moving forward, we are focused on helping our affected guests and associates, and we are working with the appropriate experts to conduct a thorough investigation."


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