How the Surfside Condo Collapse May Impact Building Safety and Inspections

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

How the Surfside Condo Collapse May Impact Building Safety and Inspections:

inspections ordered for miami beach buildings in 40-year recertification process

Updated: June 26, 1:00 pm to reflect additional information on building inspections

The Surfside condo collapse could result in a further strengthening of building codes which, in Florida, were last updated after Hurricane Andrew. While the focus remains on search and rescue, concerns are being raised about what could have caused the building to collapse and safety of other condo buildings in the area.

Experts caution there is no reason to believe buildings are unsafe, but several have recommended that recertification for buildings which is mandatory at 40 years be moved up given the changes in the environment with sea level rise and the harshness of salt water and air. The Miami Herald took a detailed look at the topic which you can read here.

The City of Miami has already announced it will request inspections of buildings six stories or taller that are at 40 years or older. In Miami Beach, a City spokeswoman confirmed that City Manager Alina Hudak has ordered a review of all outstanding 40-year building recertifications and will begin to send inspectors out.

Per a City spokeswoman, MiamiBeach is “in the process of sending structural engineers to each of the buildings in our 40-year recertification process. We anticipate this being completed within the next 10 days.” The inspections will include “just over 500 buildings.” With over 5,000 commercial buildings, this means about ten percent will be involved in the review.

In a video message, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber noted the City has been actively helping Surfside and Miami-Dade County with the response. Champlain Towers South is the first building to the east in Surfside after you cross the northernmost boundary of Miami Beach on Collins Avenue. “This building is literally feet away from our City’s border and, frankly, its residents are as much a part of our community as anyone,” Gelber said.

More than 90 City employees including police and fire have been on the scene since early Thursday morning, according to the Mayor.

“While speculation is not particularly helpful, it is vital that we learn how this happened as Champlain Towers is like many other buildings in the region including hundreds in our own City,” Gelber said. “So, our City staff are already doing an inventory of Miami Beach buildings and, of course, we will do all we can to learn what happened and take every and all necessary action in our City.”


Full Message from Mayor Dan Gelber

[Thursday's] tragedy at Champlain Tower in Surfside shattered our community. The enormity of the loss, while still unknown, is already far past unimaginable. Many of those lost and unaccounted for are friends and family of people in our City. To all those that are missing a friend or loved one, we grieve with you. 

Within minutes of the incident our City staff were on the scene. More than 90 Miami Beach employees have been there since yesterday morning. Thank you to all our first responders who are helping with the search and rescue among other important tasks. It’s a dangerous area and perilous work, but our firefighters, police and City employees are there helping out and doing whatever can be done to aid in the search and rescue effort. Thanks to all these brave professionals from Miami Beach, the County and throughout the region for their heroic efforts. 

We’ve let Mayor Burkett of Surfside and his staff, as well as County Mayor Levine Cava, know our City will do whatever more we can to support them and help their residents navigate this horrific moment. This building is literally feet away from our City’s border and, frankly, its residents are as much a part of our community as anyone. If you would like to help the families, many local synagogues and churches are organizing, and there are plenty of ways that you can provide assistance. One option is SupportSurfside.org. If you’re able to, please help. And if you, or someone you know, is trying to discover the status of a potential victim, here is the number to call: 305-614-1819. 

Buildings are not supposed to just fall down. Eventually, we will know the cause, but that could take months or longer. Already media accounts are speculating about water erosion, or construction mishaps or other circumstances that may have caused or contributed to this devastation. While speculation is not particularly helpful, it is vital that we learn how this happened as Champlain Towers is like many other buildings in the region including hundreds in our own City. So, our City staff are already doing an inventory of Miami Beach buildings and, of course, we will do all we can to learn what happened and take every and all necessary action in our City. 

But this is the time for empathy, compassion and prayer. Our City grieves with our neighbor to the north and for all those innocent souls lost to this tragedy, and their families and friends. We pray for those still unaccounted for and to give all the first responders the strength to carry on with their important work. Thank you.


Photo: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com
 

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