In wake of Surfside disaster, Florida contractors create building safety task force

Dive Brief:

  • A Florida contractors group is taking steps to address building structure safety in the wake of the Surfside, Florida collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in June that killed 98 people.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida has appointed an internal advisory panel of industry experts who will play a critical role in discussions relating to building safety, including having a voice in upcoming legislative developments related to the disaster, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive.
  • “While we do not yet have all the facts of what caused the Champlain Tower to collapse, we know that the ongoing safety and integrity of older buildings will be a topic of discussion during the 2022 legislative session,” said Gary Griffin, ABC Florida board of directors chair. “We are ready to provide industry feedback and input in real-time and want to be constructively involved in any future discussions. “

Dive Insight:

Members of the group represent the five chapters throughout Florida that make up the statewide association. They are:

  • Mike Gruber – ECS Limited
  • Jonathan Knudsen – Universal Engineering
  • Mark LeBlanc – Specialty Engineering Consultants
  • Steven Lockhart – Finfrock
  • Noman McMillan – CSI Contracting
  • Scott Olthoff – Core Construction
  • Franky Rygiel – Walbridge
  • Steve Sanko, P.E. – Dash Door & Glass

“We hope to provide industry input to our legislature and assure that we never see another tragedy like this again,” Griffin said in the release.

While the group hopes to have a say in upcoming legislation, laws in some of areas of the state have already changed to include new inspection requirements for older condos in Miami-Dade County and Boca Raton.

State lawmakers are also considering a list of recommendations from a Broward County task force that would require better maintenance of older condominium buildings, according to Florida Politics.

While the incident is still under investigation, it appears that multiple points of failure could have led to the tragedy, experts say.

There were a number of issues during construction that could have led to the building’s collapse. For instance, problems with concrete coverage on the ground-level deck as well as with the amount rebar in the columns at the garage. Gregg Schlesinger, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, former general contractor and construction engineer, said that there were a few things that could have caused the tragedy.

Another area of concern is the failure of the steel columns that support the deck in the underground garage. According to Schlesinger, there were problems where the columns connected with the structural slab.

Failure to place the steel between the columns, the structural slab, and have adequate coverage is a common contractor failure,” Schlesinger stated.

Ultimately, these columns, which didn’t have the required shear caps on top, punched through the structural slab.

“It’s sort of like resting paper on top a sharpened pencil, and pulling the paper down,” Schlesinger explained. It popped through.

Jennifer Goodman
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