Regarding the deadly porch railing collapse (“Man’s death in fall from second-floor porch adds to calls for housing safety office in Portland,” April 24):

I am a retired structural engineer who spent 45 years practicing structural engineering in the Boston area. During this time, I had many opportunities to inspect the construction of wooden porches, both old and new, in addition to steel fire escapes on multi-story buildings.

To minimize future accidents, I would suggest implementing a plan by the city of Portland similar to what other cities around the country are doing for buildings of two stories and higher.

Upon payment of real estate taxes, owners of rental properties would be required to accompany their tax payments with a structural inspection report, stamped by a registered professional structural engineer in the state of Maine, accompanied by proof of professional liability insurance.

This inspection should be done annually or, at the least, every other year and paid for by the building owner. The building codes are very clear regarding design rules and loading criteria for residential structures, specifically, porch handrails.

This program takes the responsibility and liability for inspections out of the hands of city inspectors, saves public funds and puts the onus of inspections directly where it should be: in the hands of professional structural engineers, who are bound by their licensure requirements to uphold code-required construction standards.

I am sending a copy of this letter directly to the Portland City Council.

Kurt Benedict