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RE: National Research Council vs Local Fire Departments

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Yank, several points regarding your post: 
1)It is impossible for any symposium to provide you with "concrete
engineering solutions" in more than in a very general way (isn't this
rather obvious?). That's because the symposium isn't your own personal,
consulting structural engineer, and they don't know or care what your
house looks like. If you have doubts regarding your house, HIRE ONE.

2) This is especially ironic given your name Yank. Have you ever seen
the kind of damage and loss of life in other countries when there is an
earthquake? Relatively small earthquakes (to us, that is) collapse many,
many structures, and the killed usually number in the thousands. Do you
think that's because earthquakes shake harder there? No, it's because of
those "useless" government agencies, professional groups and the like
actually care about your sorry a** ( i.e. protect the safety and welfare
of the public). Would we be better off with no building codes, no
structural engineers, no code enforcement bodies, like say in Iran? (not
to pick on Iran). A 5.0 quake there can (and usually does) kill 5 to 10
thousand people. (or more). Do you think the people who live in Iran
would be safer if they used our building code? How many people were
killed in Loma Prieta or Northridge? Less than a hundred in each I
believe. Wake Up! That's NOT a coincidence!

3) Ok, here goes. The structural engineer is your best friend in the
design of a structure. If it was up to us (i.e. money is no object and
architectural requirements are 2nd to structure), I would say that most
of the already well designed structures we produce would be even better.
But of course people like you dont want to pay a little more....don't
want exceed the code design requirements,  you just want to whine about
how structural engineers don't care. Believe me, when we stamp and sign
drawings, we care more than anybody. The first thing I want to do after
an earthquake is to make sure the buildings I designed are o.k. and
every other structural engineer will say the same.

So Yank, count your blessings. You are lucky to have government agencies
and structural engineers. Maybe your stucco cracks, maybe some repairs
are required. Maybe even your house is a total loss. But I could almost
guarantee that you will still be alive. If you take that for granted,
the next time there is a earthquake in Iran, Russia or China, watch the
news and see what it looks like. You'll be very glad you live here.

> ----------
> From: 	Yank2002(--nospam--at)[SMTP:Yank2002(--nospam--at)]
> Reply To: 	seaint(--nospam--at)
> Sent: 	Thursday, January 21, 1999 8:14 PM
> To: 	seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: 	National Research Council vs Local Fire Departments
> The report on the "Loma Prieta Earthquake" symposium sponsored in 1994
> by the
> National Research Council in cooperation with Geotechnical Board, the
> Board on
> Natural Disasters, and the National Academy of Sciences, makes the
> following
> statements on page 4, under "General Observations", under "Lesson 1":
> "....It was apparent from the papers presented at the symposium that
> the Loma
> Prieta earthquake demonstrated that the San Francisco Bay Area has
> made
> progress toward improving the ability to minimize damage and cope with
> destructive earthquakes. However, Loma Prieta was a moderately large
> earthquake that occurred a significant distance from major population
> centers;
> therefore it was not a rigorous test."
> "Recommendations: Rather than creating over-confidence and
> complacency, the
> Loma Prieta earthquake must *serve as a stern warning to residents* of
> the Bay
> Area and other earthquake-prone areas throughout the United States
> about
> future earthquakes, some of which will be larger, shake longer, and be
> closer
> to major population centers". (*...*: emphasis - not existing in the
> original
> report).
> An interesting phrase was used in the "Recommendations"-part of the
> statement:
> "... to serve as a stern warning to residents...." 
> I am a resident of an earthquake-prone area. I was given a "stern
> warning that
> a larger, longer lasting earthquake" might shake my area. My first
> question
> is: what am I supposed to do with this "stern warning"? The ground pad
> for my
> house was prepared 35 years ago, the house was built 33 years ago...
> so it
> seems that there is not very much I can do now to prepare the house
> for an
> earthquake. Even if I upgrade the house structurally to comply with
> very
> questionable current seismic code requirements there is no guarantee
> that the
> structure will withstand the earthquake. The only thing I can do is to
> store
> food, water and other emergency supplies to last me for 2 weeks or so
> - if I
> am temporarily cut off from the rest of the world. Consequently, the
> National
> Research Council should rephrase the "stern warning" notice to read:
> "There is
> a possibility of future earthquake occurring in your area. Every
> resident
> should be prepared for the earthquake by storing food, water and other
> emergency supplies if ground communication between communities is
> disrupted.
> Also, every resident should be emotionally prepared for the event".
> This
> preparedness activity information, however, has been assigned for over
> 50
> years to local fire departments. In effect, the National Research
> Council, a
> scientific organization, is duplicating the work of fire departments. 
> The second observation is: If "a destructive earthquake" is expected
> to hit my
> area (or any area) and the insurance policy only partially (up to a
> certain
> maximum) covers structural-only portions of earthquake damages, it
> seems that
> I have a problem that cannot be solved even to the minimum of my
> satisfaction.
> (I do not want to mention here the possibility of loss of life ...).
> It looks
> like sooner or later I will lose a bundle of money for repairing the
> structure
> or I have to abandon the structure if the damage is beyond reasonable
> repair
> costs. 
> If the official position of the National Research Council is to give
> meaningless and hypocritical "stern warnings to residents of
> earthquake-prone
> areas about future earthquakes" without any concrete suggestions for
> engineering solutions that would, at least, attempt to minimize the
> damages to
> structures, then we live in times when the irresponsibility (with an
> upper
> case "i") on part of the scientific, professional, local, state and
> federal
> governmental organizations is the name of the game
> the-bureaucracy-directed-
> and-top-brass-blessed seismic code writers are horror-dream-playing. 
> An interesting (and hopefully, an educational) part of the story is
> that the
> structural engineer as second in command (but still a commanding pilot
> for one
> structure) has parachuted a long time ago (right after the design of
> the
> structure was completed) to safer grounds and will not blink his eye
> even once
> thinking that, to some degree, he is or he will be also responsible
> for deaths
> and the destruction of the structure he has designed. It is not
> difficult to
> figure out why he is also responsible for things that he is not very
> proud of.