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RE: Disaster dilemma

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Some of you may be confusing the concept of safety assessment and damage
assessment.  When we are talking about safety assessment we are talking
about evaluating a building for continued occupancy.  This evaluation has
nothing to do with causes of damage or how to repair that damage.  After
the Loma Prieta earthquake I was involved in long discussions with AIA and
other non-engineering groups who desired to offer their services for safety
assessment.  It has been my experience that these non-engineering groups
have done an excellent job in providing safety assessment services when
needed.

For the Northridge earthquake response the City of Los Angeles was very
complimentary to all groups who participated in the response.  In a period
of two weeks after the earthquake in excess of 68,000 buildings were
inspected by engineers, architects, and building inspectors for continued
occupancy.  During that time an incredibly small percentage of buildings
had placards changed from green to red.  There were some which changed from
yellow to red or yellow to green and a few that changed from red to yellow.
All in all very few placards changed.

To say that only SEs should be performing safety assessments is very short
sighted.  We have yet to experience a major earthquake.  If we were to
limit safety evaluations to SEs only, there is no way we could perform
these valuable assessments in a timely fashion.  I think it is time to
place the architects vs. engineers argument behind us (at least in relation
to safety assessment) and move on with improving the program and the
service it provides to local government and the general public.