By Tom Latek
The recent building collapse in Surfside, Florida, which left at least 24 dead and more than 126 missing, has raised questions about building safety in Kentucky, and if something similar could happen here.
The Housing, Buildings, and Construction Department of the Public Welfare Cabinet, or HBC, is the agency that oversees the construction industry in the state, and some of their functions are:
• HBC Building Code Enforcement Division examines, plans and inspects the construction of new buildings, as well as additions, modifications, renovations and buildings affected by a change in occupancy or use. This ensures that buildings comply with adopted codes and benchmark standards. The division also carries out regular inspections of elevators.
• HBC Fire Prevention Division conducts inspections of existing public buildings for compliance with fire safety and life safety codes. These inspections ensure that safety devices such as means of egress, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and other necessary equipment are maintained in satisfactory condition. Inspectors meet with owners and occupants to make the necessary corrections.
• HBC accepts complaints for investigation against installations and inspectors. To file a complaint, visit the web page here.
In addition, cities like Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Frankfort also have code enforcement agencies for safe practices during and after construction.
Governor Andy Beshear addressed the subject during his press briefing on Capitol Hill last week.
“What happened with this building in South Florida is a tragedy,” he told reporters. “I actually have a friend whose wife was in this building and so far she has not been located.”
Beshear mentioned HBC and the local agencies that do this work, but added, “We are repeating, in hindsight. We are going to try to make sure that, even if it did not happen here, we learn from it, on what more needs to be done. You see the photos and it’s almost hard to believe that a building could collapse in the United States of America. We definitely need to make sure here in Kentucky, which I’m responsible for, that we don’t cut corners and that doesn’t happen here. “