Could a building collapse happen in Kentucky?

Published 6:04 am Saturday, July 3, 2021

The recent building collapse in Surfside, Florida, which has left at least 18 people dead and more than 140 missing, has raised questions about building safety in Kentucky, and whether something similar could happen here.

The Public Protection Cabinet’s Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction (HBC) is the agency that oversees the construction industry in the state, and here are some of their functions:

• HBC’s Division of Building Code Enforcement reviews, plans and inspects new building construction, as well as additions, alterations, renovations and buildings involved in a change of occupancy or use. This ensures that buildings follow adopted codes and referenced standards. The division also conducts elevator inspections on a regular basis.

• HBC’s Division of Fire Prevention conducts inspections of existing public buildings for compliance with state fire and life safety codes. These inspections ensure that safety features such as means of egress, fire alarms, sprinkler systems and other necessary equipment are maintained in satisfactory condition. Inspectors meet with property owners and occupants to achieve any necessary corrections.

• HBC accepts complaints for investigation against both facilities and inspectors. To file a complaint, visit the web page here:

In addition, cities like Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville and Covington have code enforcement agencies, too, for safe practices during and after construction.

Gov. Andy Beshear touched on the topic during his Thursday media briefing at the Capitol.

“What happened with that building in South Florida is a tragedy,” he told reporters. “In fact, I have a friend whose wife was in that building and thus far has not been located.”

Beshear mentioned HBC and local agencies that do this work, but added, “We are redoubling, looking back. We are going to try to make sure that while this didn’t occur here, that we learn lessons from it, about what extra needs to be done. You see the pictures and it’s almost hard to believe that a building could collapse in the United States of America. We need to make sure certainly here in Kentucky, which I am responsible for, that we’re not cutting corners and that doesn’t happen here.”