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The Field Act

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Fred Turner,              July 12, 1998.

Thank you for your information concerning the ""Future of California's Field
Act - Sesimic Safety for Public Schools." you posted on July 10, 1998.

If my memory serves me correctly, the Field Act passed the California
Legislature and signed into law by the Governor on April 10, 1933, just one
month after the March 10, 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

In the middle 1940's, elder statesmen Structural Engineers, a generation ahead
of Henry Degenkolb, John Blume, John Rinne, etc, who were in private practice
at the time of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, would tell the story that in
the month before the passage on the Field Act,  the California "architects"
were opposing the Field Act legislation.  The Structural Engineers told the
"architects" that if they did not stop their opposition to the Field Act the
Structural Engineers would make this information public.  The "architects"
withdrew their opposition.

It is interesting to note that the "Building Code" for the enforcement of the
Field Act was a document called "Appendix A of the Rules and Regulations
Relating to the Safety of Design and Construction of Public Buildings."  In
1941, this document measured 5 1/4 " x 7 1/2" x 3/8 " thick.  Compare that
size to the size of the 1997 Uniform Building Code or the 1997 NEHRP
Provisions.

This document grew out of a early "draft" of the "Building Code of
California" prepared for the California State Chamber of Commerce by
committees representing the Northern and Southern Chapters of the  AIA, the
Northern and Southern Sections of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the
Southern California Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America,
etc.  As I recall, the "Building Code of California" was never adopted
formally because the Northern and Southern California Sections of the American
Society of Civil Enginers could not agree on the value of the coefficient "C",
in the formula, "F = C*W (Dead plus Live Load), the "base shear" formula.

A very important, yet unpublished, report "Task 4, The Review and Analysis of
the Experience in Mitgating Earthquake Damage in California Public Schools
Buildings"  by John F. Meehan and Donald K. Jephcott, Summer 1993, funded by
the National Science Foundation,  Grant BCS-9117732, Seismic Mitigation
Strategies for Existing School Buildings Which are Subject to Earthquake Risk
Throughout the United States Program, presents a more detailed history of the
development and enforcement of the Field Act.  Both of the authors are retired
Chief Structural Engineer, Heads of Office of the State Architect, Structural
Safety Section, State of California that enforced the Field Act provisions.

Copies of this report can be obtained from Mr. David. B. Hattis, Building
Technology, Inc., 1109 Spring Street, Silver Spring, MD, 20910, telephone
(301) 588-5020, FAX (301) 587 -5154.



Frank E. McClure    FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at)aol.com