Deck Safety

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A year ago two parties in two Illinois cities came crashing down on the same day. A porch collapsed in a Chicago neighborhood on June 29 killing 12 people, hours later a deck at the Hampton Meadows apartment complex in Rockford gave way injuring eight.

"Certainly the unfortunate accidents last summer, I think, have increased people's awareness about being careful how many people they put on a balcony or a porch," said Bonnie Henry, the director of Rockford's Building Department.

While inspectors cannot say what might have caused the collapse at Hampton Meadows there are precautions we should take to avoid a deck disaster. Building to code is critical. We also should visually inspect porches, balconies and decks twice a year looking for splitting wood and loose anchoring.

"If they do find a problem. then they should contact a design professional or a qualified contractor to take a look at what the problem is," said Henry.

Property managers say renters need to report problems immediately and do their part to be safe.

"In big cities they'll have 20 or 50 or whatever they can pack on to a deck or porch. It's not made for that and that's usually why they break," said Jerry Flaming, president of Rockford's Apartment Association.

Immediately after the deck collapse in Rockford, inspectors say the structure appeared to be sound. However, five people have filed suit in the case of the deck collapse here in Rockford. A trial date has not been set and a continuing investigation keeps the Hampton Meadows apartment complex from rebuilding the deck