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Palm Beach encourages building inspections after Surfside condo collapse

Town cites 'heightened awareness of the need to proactively inspect' buildings
Peter Millar and other businesses on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 17:43:49-04

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The town of Palm Beach is encouraging building owners to conduct safety inspections in the aftermath of the Surfside condominium collapse.

Palm Beach officials sent a letter Tuesday acknowledging the "heightened awareness of the need to proactively inspect building structures in the coastal areas of Florida, including Palm Beach."

"The constant exposure to salt air, high winds and storms combine to put a large strain on the concrete used in building construction," town building official Wayne Bergman, Palm Beach Police Chief Nicholas Caristo, Fire Rescue Chief Darrel Donatto and Director of Public Works Paul Brazil wrote. "Now is the perfect time for you to engage credible, qualified engineers or architects to perform a thorough safety inspection of your building."

At least 18 people have died and more than 100 others are missing after the Champlain Towers South condo building partially collapsed early in the morning on June 24.

parked crane sits next to still standing portion of Champlain Towers South condo after collapse, July 1, 2021
A parked crane sits beside the still standing section of Champlain Towers South, which partially collapsed, as rescue efforts on the rubble below were paused out of concern about the stability of the remaining structure, July 1, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.

A 2018 engineering report noted "major structural damage" to the 40-year-old oceanfront building.

Palm Beach officials noted how Miami-Dade and Broward counties have a mandatory 40-year recertification requirement that Palm Beach County does not, "although after the Surfside disaster, this may change."

Doug Wise, the county's building official, told WPTV earlier this week that an unsafe building ordinance was adopted many years ago, "so if somebody reports something wrong, we go out and inspect and, if needed, we make them get an engineer."

Wise said he doesn't believe residents living in high-rise buildings should be concerned.

"We have all dedicated our lives to make sure these buildings are safe," he said.