By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A coalition of engineers and architects said Florida should consider requiring high-rise buildings near the coast to undergo safety inspections every 20 years with follow-ups every seven years.

The report was issued four months after the Champlain Towers South collapsed in Surfside, killing 98 people.

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The coalition of engineers and architects formed after the collapse in June.

The recommendations are based on “preserving the long-term health of buildings by assessing environmental and other degradation of structures and their systems over the life of a building,” the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida and the Florida Engineering Society said in a news release.

Seven of the state’s engineering and architecture associations formed the Surfside Working Group to come up with ideas to prevent another tragedy like the partial collapse of the 12-story beachfront property.

The group also said nearly all large buildings in Florida should be inspected for structural problems within their first 30 years, with follow-ups every 10 years. Buildings within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of saltwater should be inspected within their first 20 years, with follow-up safety inspections every seven years, the group said.

“Our recommendation is not really to tell the condos, or owners of other buildings, how to maintain your property. It’s just to put a mechanism out there that these buildings need to be looked at every so often to identify any structural problems,” said Allen Douglas, executive director of the Florida Engineering Society and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida.

“We don’t know exactly why the tower fell. Whether it was a design error, whether it was a construction problem or whether it was just lack of maintenance,” Douglas said. “But I think as an industry they felt a responsibility to put something out.”

“With the exception of Miami-Dade County and Broward County there’s no real requirements for existing buildings, condos, office buildings,” says Douglas.

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“This is really about concrete and steel buildings which a lot of them are and making sure that the environmental damage that’s done is mitigated through the life of the building,” says Douglas.

“They take out walls and do other things and see what’s going on and deal with the repairs that are needed.”

The report has been forwarded to Florida legislators, he said.

The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times first reported the recommendations Thursday.

The report calls for inspections on a wide range of buildings, including condominiums, offices and other structures that exceed 10 occupants and are covered by the state’s building code.

Only Broward and Miami-Dade counties require mandatory inspections of tall buildings.

Champlain Towers South was undergoing its 40-year inspection when it crumbled in the middle of the night. A 2018 engineer’s report noted “major structural damage” caused by lack of proper drainage on the pool deck.

The condominium board’s discussions over how to pay for the repairs delayed work on the building.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Team