Florida Advised to Pass Law for High-Rise Inspections in Wake of Surfside Collapse

A coalition of engineers and architects advised Florida to require new building inspections and regulations in an attempt to prevent another tragedy like the Surfside condominium collapse that killed 98 people in June, the Associated Press reported.

Allen Douglas, executive director of the Florida Engineering Society and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida, agreed that the recommendations and regulations are important to avoid another tragedy.

"We don't know exactly why the tower fell," he said. "Whether it was a design error, whether it was a construction problem or whether it was just lack of maintenance. But I think as an industry, they felt a responsibility to put something out."

The recommendations, which were released four months after the Champlain Towers South collapsed, suggest high-rise buildings near the coast undergo safety inspections every 20 years.

The Surfside Working Group is made up of seven of the state's engineering and architecture associations and said nearly all large buildings in Florida should be inspected for structural problems within the first 30 years of being built, with follow-up inspections every 10 years.

Buildings within 3 miles of the ocean should be inspected within their first 20 years, with follow-up inspections every seven years.

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida and the Florida Engineering Society made the recommendations based on "preserving the long-term health of buildings by assessing environmental and other degradation of structures and their systems over the life of a building."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Champlain Towers South condo building in Florida
The state of Florida has been advised by a coalition of engineers and architects to require new building inspections and regulations in an attempt to prevent another tragedy like the Surfside condominium collapse in June. Above, Coast Guard boats patrol in front of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, on July 1, 2021. Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

"Our recommendation is not really to tell the condos, or owners of other buildings, how to maintain your property," Douglas said. "It's just to put a mechanism out there that these buildings need to be looked at every so often to identify any structural problems."

The report has been forward to Florida legislators, he said.

The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times first reported the recommendations Thursday.

The report calls for inspections on a wide range of buildings, including condominiums, offices and other structures that exceed 10 occupants and are covered by the state's building code.

Only Broward and Miami-Dade counties require mandatory inspections of tall buildings.

Champlain Towers South was undergoing its 40-year inspection when it crumbled in the middle of the night. A 2018 engineer's report noted "major structural damage" caused by lack of proper drainage on the pool deck.

The condominium board's discussions over how to pay for the repairs delayed work on the building.