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[SEAOC] Re: [SEAOC] Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings

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In private postings to me in response to my December 3 listserv posting on
this subject, several writers asked why I didn't reveal my "vested interest"
in FEMA 178.  So, in the interest of full disclosure:  I was a member of the
BSSC committee that worked over three years to produce the document, and
chaired the subcommittee that wrote the procedures and commentary on
moment-resisting frames.  At the time the committee started its work, one hat
I was wearing was that of seismic safety program manager for San Francisco
overseeing seismic evaluations of many city-owned buildings using ATC-14
criteria.  It was the first time that this document was extensively
field-tested, and we found situations the document could have done a better
and/or clearer job in addressing.  

My only vested interest then was in seeing that 178 included the lessons
learned from the SF experience.   The committee initially was charged with
reviewing and modifying ATC-14, but the changes in form and substance that
the committee felt were needed were extensive, and the committee wound up
doing a complete rewrite, which became 178.  My "vested" interest today is
only to highlight a document that can more readily be adapted into an
enforceable standard, thus easing the burden on building officials in
jurisdictions that embark on a mandatory seismic retrofit program.   This in
turn would enhance the chances  that more jurisdictions may take such action.
 FEMA 178 may not be state-of-the-art, but it will help identify and mitigate
the more serious seismic hazards, which is always the paramount
public-interest justification for retrofit ordinances/programs.  After a
program is in place, engineers certainly can be guided by FEMA 273, Product
1.2/1.3, etc in situations where their judgement or client needs require that
more than the minimum done.

Franklin Lew, SE
Building Official

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