June 26, 2021, Carson City- When I was in Metz, France, in the summer of 2014, I passed by one of the many high-rise, multiunit apartment complexes that dot virtually every large city in France. There were a large number of people of North African and West Asian descent in the complex. One young man, 10-years of age, allowed as he went to bed each night, wondering if he and his family would be alive the next morning. Fear of fires, explosions and general mayhem in the complexes abounds, in such complexes.
This past week, we have witnessed the realization of the nightmare described above: The implosion of a high-rise apartment tower, on U.S. soil, in Surfside, FL, just north of Miami. Five people are confirmed dead, with 159 unaccounted and 157 confirmed to have survived. An adjacent tower is in the process of being evacuated.
There are already allegations of shoddy construction, the implication being that saving money was the prime impetus in the building of this, and probably many other, residential towers. I am sure this is rampant in the construction industry: Contractors and subcontractors have ample incentive to cut corners-but the onus is not all on them: The lenders, architects and complex owners all have a share of the blame, when the safety and well-being of residents take a backseat to financial concerns. In other nations, when such a horror has happened, those found to be short-circuiting legitimate safety matters have been held to account-often sent to prison for their role in the slaughter.
The collapse of Champlain Towers should never have happened. I have family members in the construction industry, one of whom lives in south Florida. None of the work these men have done has ever involved cutting corners-anymore than any engine my father helped construct. for a commercial jet plane would have failed, due to human negligence. Work involves commitment to the final level of customers, be they tenants in n apartment complex or passengers on a jumbo jet.
The late Stephen Covey said: “See the end, in the beginning.” Surfside is yet another wake-up call!