UPDATE: Wildwood Condo Deck Collapse Injures 18; Multiple Agencies Respond

Multiple emergency agencies responded to a deck collapse Sept. 14 in the 200 block of East Baker Avenue in Wildwood.  

WILDWOOD - Taking chances on public safety will not happen on City Commissioners’ watch, according to Mayor Ernie Troiano Oct. 14. 

Troiano’s comments came three days after a letter from City Construction Official Rick Allen was circulated. Dated Oct. 8, Allen’s letter outlines steps homeowners should take to increase deck safety measures.

“In light of the recent problems with older decks,” Allen wrote, “the City of Wildwood is recommending that every property owner check their exterior deck for damage, excessive wear, and other problems.” 

According to a release, second and third-floor decks collapsed Sept. 14 at a condominium in the 200 block of East Baker Avenue in Wildwood. Approximately 18 people were injured during the incident, which occurred during the New Jersey Firemen’s Convention. 

According to the mayor, Allen recently met with construction officials in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest while crafting the letter. Troiano said he hopes all homeowners/property owners will receive the letter, and that a “uniform” code will be adopted across the Wildwoods.  

The construction offices in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest were contacted for comment, but none was given. 

Allen believes “proper maintenance” of decks, porches, and balconies will prevent “structural problems and possible failures.” Homeowners should ensure structural components are “intact and stable” and that connectors are free from corrosion.

Sea air plays a large role in corrosion, Allen wrote, and he urges property owners to perform routine checks. Materials are also affected by weather conditions, such as wind, and must be taken into consideration. 

Allen recommends homeowners check:

* Columns and supports

* Connections to structural supports and the main structure

* Beams and girders

* Joists and ledgers

* Existing bolts and hangers

* Stairs and handrails 

* Guardrails 

If a homeowner discovers an issue, according to Allen, a review from a “registered architect or licensed engineer” should be obtained. The review would contain recommended repairs. 

The city does not expect the homeowner to face the problems alone. Allen wrote, “The City of Wildwood’s construction office will assist you with properly following procedures regarding an unsafe structure.” Help applying for needed permits is also available. 

“Please keep in mind that it is the responsibility of every property and building owner to ensure that their structure is maintained in a safe condition free of hazards,” Allen concluded.

Potential repairs pose additional costs to homeowners, but officials are determined to keep residents and guests safe. Commissioner Peter Byron stands with the mayor on the matter.

In a phone interview Oct. 14, Commissioner Anthony Leonetti said many are not aware of rot that takes place early on in a structure due to weather conditions. Leonetti said the measures are not mandatory, but are “highly recommended.” He stressed the need to use the right lumber for decks and other projects.

To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.

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