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RE: National Research Council vs Local Fire Departments

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    First of all, I think you misunderstood an expression: "Loma Prieta
earthquake must *serve as a stern warning to residents* of the Bay Area and
other earthquake-prone areas throughout the United States".  It means that,
given the local seismicity of the Bay Area, we can expect bigger and longer
lasting EQ's to happen.  That's no secret for anyone, the Big One has to
occur, no matter if it strikes tomorrow or within five centuries, (and the
chances are not the same, of course).
    Besides, as Montgomery said, it's better to have a code than nothing.
The code, as you MUST know does'nt avoid the collapse of your structure
after a sever-destructive-design earthquake, it just saves your a**.
During minor EQs you can expect less damage to occur, but that's it.  And
what I pointed out before is clearly said in every code in the world, so as
to avoid misinterpretations.
    As far as the insurance companies is concerned, you live in USA, you got
to know that it's all about money: they aren't giving a service to the
community 'cause they're philantropists, they sell the service and they
can't take chances.


Rodrigo Lema

-----Mensaje original-----
De: Yank2002(--nospam--at) <Yank2002(--nospam--at)>
Para: seaint(--nospam--at) <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Fecha: viernes, 22 de enero de 1999 3:02
Asunto: National Research Council vs Local Fire Departments

>The report on the "Loma Prieta Earthquake" symposium sponsored in 1994 by
>National Research Council in cooperation with Geotechnical Board, the Board
>Natural Disasters, and the National Academy of Sciences, makes the
>statements on page 4, under "General Observations", under "Lesson 1":
>"....It was apparent from the papers presented at the symposium that the
>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
>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
>Area and other earthquake-prone areas throughout the United States about
>future earthquakes, some of which will be larger, shake longer, and be
>to major population centers". (*...*: emphasis - not existing in the
>An interesting phrase was used in the "Recommendations"-part of the
>"... to serve as a stern warning to residents...."
>I am a resident of an earthquake-prone area. I was given a "stern warning
>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
>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
>structure will withstand the earthquake. The only thing I can do is to
>food, water and other emergency supplies to last me for 2 weeks or so - if
>am temporarily cut off from the rest of the world. Consequently, the
>Research Council should rephrase the "stern warning" notice to read: "There
>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
>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,
>scientific organization, is duplicating the work of fire departments.
>The second observation is: If "a destructive earthquake" is expected to hit
>area (or any area) and the insurance policy only partially (up to a certain
>maximum) covers structural-only portions of earthquake damages, it seems
>I have a problem that cannot be solved even to the minimum of my
>(I do not want to mention here the possibility of loss of life ...). It
>like sooner or later I will lose a bundle of money for repairing the
>or I have to abandon the structure if the damage is beyond reasonable
>If the official position of the National Research Council is to give
>meaningless and hypocritical "stern warnings to residents of
>areas about future earthquakes" without any concrete suggestions for
>engineering solutions that would, at least, attempt to minimize the damages
>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
>and-top-brass-blessed seismic code writers are horror-dream-playing.
>An interesting (and hopefully, an educational) part of the story is that
>structural engineer as second in command (but still a commanding pilot for
>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
>thinking that, to some degree, he is or he will be also responsible for
>and the destruction of the structure he has designed. It is not difficult
>figure out why he is also responsible for things that he is not very proud