Madison city officials detail building inspection protocols amid Florida condo collapse

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - At least four people are dead and nearly 159 people are still unaccounted for at the site of a 12-story condo collapse in Florida. As rescue efforts continue, so does the search for answers.

A full investigation into what happened could take months, and it cannot start until emergency crews finish searching for survivors and victims amid the rubble. However, the tragedy is already sparking national conversation of how it could be prevented.

“I cannot think of a building just simply falling down,” City of Madison’s Plan Review and Inspector Supervisor, Kyle Bunnow, said.

Bunnow is tasked with supervising thousands of projects a year in Madison, making sure things are up to code. He said he’s never witnessed anything like what happened near Miami Beach.

“If you have a failure of a building, it’s usually directly related to an acute incident that occurred, whether that’s weather or someone has done something inside of the building that has caused it to become compromised,” he said.

While the cause of the collapse is still not known, Bunnow said buildings do not just fall.

“The collapse of a building traditionally may happen very, very slow, until it happens fast,” he said.

Bunnow said his department checks in and inspects throughout a construction project, making sure things are built safely and soundly to begin with.

“We will inspect everything from the footings in the foundation in a building, the framing, the mechanicals as they are installed, all of the fire separations and ultimately the final occupancy,” Bunnow said.

Once a building is given final approval, the city does no further inspection, unless a problem is identified or a new project is started. He said one example of an older building requiring new permits and inspection was the restoration of the historic Madison Municipal Building downtown.

“That’s a really good example of an old building that has been modified over periods of time. It’s been looked at, carefully designed, permitted and inspected to make sure its safe for everyone to be inside the building and use it,” he said.

Bunnow said all Wisconsin municipalities follow the same state regulations for building code.

“We have a very safe, substantial system in place and individuals should feel confident when they go into buildings.” he said.

He said a building collapse should come with warning signs and encourages people to reach out to officials if they see concerning changes in a structure, especially during a construction project.

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