A Miami-Dade grand jury has released a series of recommendations through a 43-page report in order to try and prevent another Surfside condo-style collapse.
The disaster claimed the lives of 98 residents on June 24 this year when a portion of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., collapsed in the middle of the night.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle responded by asking a grand jury to evaluate procedures to prevent similar disasters “not just in Surfside, and not just in condominiums, but in all buildings and structures in the coastal, intercoastal, and surrounding areas of our county, state, and nation.”
Investigations led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology continue and the actual cause of the Surfside collapse isn’t clear. However, a review of documents issued about the building just prior to its collapse was sufficient for the grand jury to conclude that there was enough information available that every stakeholder should have been aware of a major problem.
“However, sadly, none of the participants acted quickly enough to avert this tragedy,” the grand jury concluded.
Rundle said the grand jury’s report had identified several action items that could help to prevent similar disasters in future, including the revision of statutes that oversee condo safety, a greater focus by state and local governments on preventing dangerous structural deterioration, and the need for state condo boards to recognize the responsibility they have when it comes to preserving the lives of buildings and residents.
The grand jury recommended that the state’s department supervising condo associations ought to be restructured, to allow it to play a more serious role in overseeing condominium guidance. The report also called for more funding, staff and inspectors to identify dangerous buildings, and to rise qualification standards for inspectors. Condo boards should also be required to post maintenance documents and inspection reports online.
Finally, the report requested more immediate reporting of any defects uncovered.
“Should an engineer or architect who conducts a building inspection determine that the building or structure is unsafe for continued occupancy (whether structural integrity, electrical issue, fire safety, or any other life safety concern) the engineer or architect shall notify the Local Building Official within 24 hours of such finding,” the group recommended.