The Rust Belt used to be a region of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States experiencing industrial decline starting around 1980 with the transfer of manufacturing jobs overseas, increased automation, and the decline of the US steel and coal industries.
Today it’s a different type of rust belt occurring in communities along Florida’s beautiful and captivating oceanfront. Many believe it’s resulting from a ubiquitous building material called steel rebar that’s rusting everywhere it’s used in construction throughout the state.
I know something about it as I’ve seen it rusting before my own eyes during the periodic balcony restorations that must continually occur in oceanfront properties like mine when rusting rebar hemorrhages causing noticeable cracks in the cement.
Why do we keep feeding corrosion its favorite food—steel? Why aren’t we using rust-proof rebar made from basalt fiber when there’s a company right in Florida called Basanite Inc (OTCQB:BASA) that manufactures it?
And if it’s permanence we want, why are we not building our stairs, doors, windows, railings and even our docks with the same durable, rust-proof material we use to build our boats—fiberglass? What are we, rust fans? Corrosion lovers?
Recently the first condominium regulation update since the Surfside disaster last year sailed through a Senate committee, aiming to require 30-year-old, multifamily buildings taller than three stories to get inspected.
The proposed legislation (SB 1702) received unanimous approval from the Senate Community Affairs Committee.
The legislation would require a two-part inspection at these buildings’ 30-year mark and then once every 10 years thereafter. Buildings within three miles of the coastline would be inspected after 20 years and every seven years thereafter.
I say it’s a good start, but I’d take it a few giant steps further by encouraging greater use of BasaFlex, a rust-proof building material made by Basanite in Pompano Beach, Florida and another green product made by A Fiberglass Solution in nearby South Carolina whose maintenance free fiberglass is another far better solution than wood or steel as it will not rot or rust and lasts 50-plus years with no maintenance.
Maybe 98 lives might have been saved in the implosion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South if, as engineers had warned years before the tragedy, the abundant cracking in the 40-year-old structure from the damaged, exposed and rusting rebar had been replaced by Basanite’s rebar that doesn’t rust.
The legislation proposes that a structural engineer or architect perform a visual exam of the building to look for structural distress and a threshold inspector would look at the building and perhaps conduct some testing to analyze the point at which components might fail.
The reports would be filed with the condo board, the building owners and the building official who has jurisdiction over where the building is.
“We have half a million condo units in our state that are between 40 and 50 years old or greater,” said Sen. Jennifer Bradley, who sponsored the bill. “There is no requirement that they be inspected. There is no requirement that the unit owners are aware of the condition of their building. So, while we all wish we could turn back time, what we can do is take meaningful action today to hopefully prevent this tragedy in other communities.”
Besides an imaginative blogger who detests rust and retards, Tom Madden is a former journalist and an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available in March on Amazon. He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.