Urban Search and Rescue Bill advances to Florida Senate floor

by | Apr 16, 2021


Each time a tragedy strikes which involves the collapse of buildings teams of professionals, known as Structures Specialists (StS), are needed to volunteer their expertise to assist first responders by identifying safe points of entry and safe navigation of those structures. However, since 2017, the number of professional engineers volunteering their services has decreased by 60 percent due to Florida’s overly litigious environment.

“In the event of a large-scale disaster such as a hurricane hitting a large coastal metropolitan area like Tampa Bay, Miami, Orlando or Jacksonville, requests for Urban Search and Rescue Structures Specialist will immediately exceed Florida’s availability,” warned Allen Douglas, Executive Director, Florida Engineering Society and American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida.

A bill passed unanimously today by the Florida Senate Rules Committee hopes to correct that.

Senate Bill 1060, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-District 5), limits liability for voluntary engineering or architectural services. It exempts engineers, architects, and structures specialists from liability for certain voluntary engineering or architectural services under certain circumstances.

“Urban Search and Rescue is a dangerous undertaking that’s conducted in buildings that are fully or partially collapsed. First responders are exposed to greater dangers when they don’t have an engineer helping them determine the least hazardous means of entry into a collapsed building. They shouldn’t be placed in greater dangers than they already are,” said Andrew Schrader, PE, StS1, Founder, Recon Response Engineering in St. Petersburg.

“Hurricane seasons are becoming more intense and storms are more frequent. It’s important for Florida to be proactive and ensure that we have the Urban Search and Rescue Structures Specialists needed to aid and protect first responders entering collapsed structures in search of life. It’s just common sense,” said Jonathan W. Milton, PE, StS2, President, Milton Engineering Consultants in Stuart.

Twenty-five states already have some form of liability protection in place – including New Jersey who rushed to pass similar legislation after Super Storm Sandy when they discovered they had a lack of these professional volunteers.

“Search & Rescue Teams must have every resource to aid Floridians during disasters. That’s why I support SB 1060 and HB 891 that gives engineers the protections needed to help first responders save lives,” said Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis.

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Florida and Florida Engineering Society applaud the Florida Senate Rules Committee for advancing SB 1060, which it calls an important urban search and rescue bill.

It is hoped that with the passage of SB 1060 Florida can take proactive steps to help ensure these volunteers are protected, and that Florida can once again grow the ranks of these highly important urban search and rescue personnel.

“The services provided by engineers during a disaster are critical to our recovery efforts and to ensuring the safety of first responders and the public,” said Bradley. “I’m pleased to sponsor legislation that protects these professionals under the Good Samaritan Law.”

3 Comments

  1. Richard

    The Urban Search and Rescue Bill advances to the Florida Senate floor today, and it is one of the most important bills that will be discussed. The bill would create a state-level Search and Rescue Authority, which would be responsible for responding to emergencies in certain cities and counties. The authority would also be responsible for developing statewide search and rescue plans, and for funding the authority’s operations. The bill is important because it would create a centralized authority that would be able to respond quickly to emergencies in cities and counties across the state. floating floorboards adelaide

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  2. Steve Maartensz

    The Capitolist is a website that provides news and analysis on Capitol Hill and Florida politics. Our website is dedicated to providing you with the latest information on the Florida Senate floor. We provide information on who is in office, what is happening in the legislature, and what is expected to happen in the coming weeks.
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  3. Martin Mitchell

    The Capitolist is proud to bring you the latest in urban search and rescue. With this bill, Florida’s Senate floor will be one step closer to ensuring that everyone who needs rescuing has access to the help they need. This bill is a necessary step to ensuring that more people are saved from danger andProperty damage. electrician balcatta

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