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Re: Disaster dilemma

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Waffle on!
Dennis Wish PE
-----Original Message-----
From: T <vicpeng(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Saturday, January 24, 1998 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Disaster dilemma

>Dear List Members
>I read this mailing with intense interest & I have contributed a little on
>minor issues such as Kathleen's frame conundrum.  My comments may have
>little relevance to your local conditions but I seek favour to wax
>moderately eloquent.  It's the British in me, I dear say :-)
>I am a "sole practitioner" in Victoria BC Canada and it is with piqued
>interest that I see the same professional problems afflicting the "Mecca of
>structural engineering" as I am witnessing here in Canada.  I have been
>practising here for only about 6 years.  Before that I practised in New
>Zealand and Japan.  With any grouping of like-minded individuals there will
>always be a mixture of various expertise and it often seems that the more
>"mature" the society gets the more this "competency" or "adequacy" problem
>raises its head, as knowledge (or method of gaining/retaining that
>knowledge) becomes entrenched and attitudes become laboured with that
>I certainly welcome this heated (?) debate, not because I personally wish
>root out the incompetent (Lord knows I have my own share of bungles) but to
>keep the heads of our members around the world (I presume this unity)
>humming with the awareness of the energy that is the creativeness and
>adeptness of the engineer.  It is by swimming freely like this in the sea
>our profession that we can interact with others, both our superiors and
>inferiors, and increase our knowledge and abilities without fear of
>condescension or rebuke of our weaknesses.
>As the current Chair for the Vancouver Island Section of the Canadian
>Society for Civil Engineering I try to be active by encouraging continued
>education and professional development (as espoused by our Society) with
>this very competency problem at the forefront of my own activities and
>As far as disaster response is concerned our local section has convened a
>modest steering committee which has as its mandate the of training people
>the post-disaster assessment of structures.  We do not at this time
>discriminate the abilities of individuals, rather we are intent on
>the information and knowledge that enhances the  person's existing
>abilities.  Our immediate group has as its goal the formation of a coherent
>structural engineering response resource.  The idea mooted is that teams of
>two or three would visit damage sites to carry out the assessments (I
>understand a similar procedure was carried out at Northridge?).   The teams
>would have at least one structurally competent person (presumed to be a
>structural engineer) and the others of varying degrees of ability.  We have
>a long way to go to make this practicable but we struggle on.
>Despite the profession's high expectation/opinion of its members (the
>Architectural Chapters are strong on this point) there are many so-called
>non-professional persons out in the industry with very developed skills
>that, dare I acknowledge, have put more than one structural engineer in his
>or her place.  I recently posted the opinion that it is important that the
>central response organization have the withall to either have a list of
>potential assessors or to be able to make reasonable judgments on the
>capabilities of volunteers who "show up".  This part is not easy I know but
>in times of chaos we often have no choice but to to rely on whoever is
>willing to offer service.  Our own local attempts at creating a data base
>potential volunteers is our way of addressing the issue of ability on the
>Apologies for waffling.  Keep writing.  I remain ever spell-bound.
>Thor Tandy  P.Eng
>Victoria BC