The men paid to demolish the Hoagie City building on Market Street paid Tariq Henry $60 a day to clean up and direct traffic.
Henry testified on Friday that he was usually the first one at the job site on the southeast corner of 22nd and Market Streets in June 2013, and that often he was scared that he was going to get hurt.
When asked to work at night, Henry refused.
"They wasn't paying," Henry said.
On June 5, an unbraced three- to four-story brick wall from that demolition project toppled onto the neighboring Salvation Army thrift store, killing six people and injuring 13.
Henry said he shielded his face from projectile glass, then went into action.
"I ran in to help," Henry said.
Henry was one of two witnesses to testify Friday as the Salvation Army opened its defense against the volley of lawsuits filed against it by victims and their families in the wake of the deadly collapse.
The bulk of the day saw lawyers for all parties arguing before Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina over whether Salvation Army expert Jerry L. Purswell, a former director of safety operations at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, could testify.
Purswell took the stand briefly to discuss his qualifications, but attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that his testimony would be irrelevant.
Martin Fricko, a Philadelphia contractor, also testified about inspections he made at the Salvation Army store prior to the collapse, noting that most of the water damage in the store was coming from the adjacent building.
The Hoagie City building was owned by New York real estate speculator Richard Basciano.