NewsLocal News


Forensic Engineers now working to determine the cause of Surfside condo collapse

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 17:47:06-04

TALLAASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — When it comes to buildings in Florida, the safety expectations are all laid out on a statewide level. When a tragedy like the Surfside collapse happens, it's up to a Forensic Engineer to piece together what went wrong.

Rowland Lamb is a Senior Engineer with Coloney Bell.

"We investigate it to determine what the cause of the failure was and the purpose of a forensic engineer is to assist in matters that have the potential of going to litigation or are in litigation, e says.

Part of his job includes getting familiar with the rules and regulations the state has in place to put a building up.

Florida state law lays out the process to construct a building. The Florida Building Code is broken into several types including commercial, residential, and hurricane proof. All layout-specific details must be met.

There are about 35 categories per code type. Those include water resistant barriers, designs that will support the soil and foundation and a geotechnical investigation into existing natural occurrences nearby.

Every box on the inspection process must be checked before the final approval is given on a building.

In Tallahassee, once a building is completed, there's nothing requiring ongoing inspections unless there is a new addition to the building. However, in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, all buildings more than 2,000 square feet have to be re-certified after 40 years, then every 10 years after that.

Thursday's building collapse is now opening the door for a statewide change. Rowland Lamb says in the meantime, any current indication of what happened in Surfside is just speculation.

"This is going to be one where there are many many pieces of this puzzle and it's going to take a long time to put it together," said Lamb.

There are no talks right now for Tallahassee and Leon county to develop a re-certification plan. Many structural engineers point to the difference in landscaping and environment in those two counties.