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Re: Future of CA's Field Act - Seismic Safety for Public Schools

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Thanks Fred, this is valuable information.  By outward appearences, the integrity
of the Field Act is not yet safe.  Maybe, there needs to be more work done with
DSA to help them update (not water down) their standards.  Presonally, I believe
that DSA has done a good job in developing standards for public schools.  I
believe that they should remain responsible for this occupancy.  That is not to
say that I do not think local governments are capable of plan checking and
inspecting schools, many are.  But to have one agency responsible statewide for
such an important occupancy seems to make sense to me.

Again, thanks Fred for the update.

FredT5(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote:

> A hearing was held yesterday in the State Capitol on the Future of the Field
> Act. Approved minutes will be available after September 14th.
>
> Below are some highlights from yesterday's hearings. These are not complete or
> official minutes and are subject to change and different interpretations.
>
> The Division of the State Architect announced that it has no authority to
> enforce parts of the Ca. Building Standards Code for architectural, mechanical
> and electrical systems. At this time, some of these systems are not plan
> checked per se, but they are inspected. DSA recommended that DSA be given stop
> work authority to improve enforcement of minor violations of the Field Act,
> and red tag authority for post earthquake safety evaluations. DSA also
> recommends that a survey of hazardous K-14 schools be undertaken.
>
> The California Building Officials state that they can enforce the Field Act
> just as well if not better than DSA. Many local governments are turning to
> private plan check firms to take on all size projects. CALBO was represented
> yesterday by a private, for-profit consultant which is a growing trend in the
> code enforcement industry. Times have changed since 1933 when the Field Act
> was passed. The UBC is much closer to Field Act standards now. While CALBO
> advocates the use of model codes. However, if the industry recognizes a
> shortcoming in the codes, CALBO now advocates that the industry work together
> to amend the model codes through the California Building Standards Commission.
>
> The American Institute of Architects, Ca. Council said that where local
> funding is the sole source of funds, local building departments should be
> allowed to enforce the Field Act.
>
> The Ca. State Parent Teachers Association supports the Field Act, but more
> should be done to regulate nonstructural and building contents risks.
>
> SEAOC said that the single most critical need is to maintain appropriate
> staffing and expertise. SEAOC supports DSA's request for red tagging and the
> need to evaluate collapse-risk older buildings.
>
> EERI suggests that voluntary nonstructural risk reduction is a successful
> approach.
>
> The Ca. Building Industry Association recommends that a bill be introduced
> next year to allow local governments to enforce the Field Act provided local
> government personnel meet DSA qualifications and supervision oversight.
>
> The Associated General Contractors mentioned their recent paper on school cost
> containment. They recommended that DSA review and modify outdated codes and
> standards including common nails, low moisture content in lumber, malleable
> iron washers, and redundance in inspection such as continuous batch plant
> inspection, and tagging of rebar.
>
> The State's Superintendent of Public School Instruction stated they support
> the Field Act since continuous site inspection is critical. Unfortunately many
> school board members are ill-informed about the benefits of the Field Act.
> More attention is needed on plumbing, mechanical, electrical and bathroom
> adequacy. With the increase in portables, many schools have not seen a
> commensurate increase in bathrooms. Eastin's office supports the concept of a
> DSA-approved local government plan check process for public schools. Her
> office is concerned about life safety from small modifications to school
> buildings that fall under the $25000 exemption that go unchecked and
> uninspected. Her office is also concerned about small districts not being able
> to manage construction and ensure adequate inspection. Her office offered to
> disseminate helpful Field Act information to school districts.
>
> The Department of General Services is open to allowing locals to plan check
> schools provided the integrity of the Field Act is retained.
>
> The Legislature's Joint Committee on School Facilities states that repeal of
> the Field Act won't save appreciable funds - its a small cost with
> considerable benefits since the Act works. Uniformity of enforcement is
> important and local government plan checks are not going to ensure this
> uniformity. Perhaps School Districts should cost-share with FEMA and OES since
> public schools typically become disaster relief centers. Incentives need to be
> established to encourage school districts to reduce nonstructural and building
> contents risk. The Committee supports setasides for retrofits in all future
> bond acts even if it is not totally utilized.
>
> Six Issues were Identified by Commissioner Shapiro at the close of the
> hearing:
>
> 1. Is there a difference in earthquake performance between private and public
> schools?
>
> 2. What should be the extent of plan reviews for
> architectural/mechanical/electrical public school systems?
>
> 3. If local governments are to be engaged to enforce the Field Act, what
> stipulations would be needed to ensure adequate qualifications and
> supervision?
>
> 4. Are local governments really seeking to do this work?
>
> 5. Is Field Act conservatism justified?
>
> 6. So-called outdated Field Act standards.
>
> 7. Field Act "stop work" and "red tag" authority.
>
> A followup effort to address these issues yet to be determined is anticipated
> by the Commission and others by perhaps the end of this year. FYI.
>
> Fred Turner
> Staff Structural Engineer
> Ca. Seismic Safety Commission
> 1900 K St. #100 Sacramento, CA 95814
> 916-327-1606 916-322-9476 Fax
> FredT5(--nospam--at)aol.com
>