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Re: Turkey Earthquake, Survivors Lead Calls to Punish the Builders

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Seaintonln(--nospam--at) wrote:

> I have not doubt that in a major earthquake or Hurricane, the people of the
> United States will be better protected from loss of life, however, until we
> start to address the quality of construction and the capabilities of those
> who commit to building these structures we will never be able to improve
> performance. The only thing that we will be able to insure is that only those
> with money can afford to build to the minimum engineered solutions
> established by code. All others will be at the mercy of the developers and
> profiteers who will easily convert to prescriptive methods and claim equal
> performance and safety levels.
> Someday the industries have to wake up and hopefully it will be before too
> many are homeless in the U.S.
> Dennis S. Wish PE

Certainly this unfortunately answers one of our reality check questions: "where
are the bodies?" Yet I wonder if this issue alone is sufficient to wake the call
for concern about earthquake hazards.

I was reflecting on the media image of Larry Miller, owner of the Utah Jazz,
standing in his tornado damaged building (Delta Center) telling reports that
"thankfully" there was insurance to cover this "problem". He wasn't exactly
overjoyed, yet I didn't see a tear in the corner of his eye either. A similar
take, replaced with an earthquake, would most likely have a very concerned
building owner wondering what had just happened and how this effect might "change
everything" for him as a building (and basketball team) owner.

Don't get me wrong here. Larry Miller is a very compassionate man (and
businessman). He is as concerned about people as he is about property. His grief
would be many fold if peoples lives were endangered.

Yet I wonder if building owners (financial) can be better sensitized and
influenced to help the overall process. We tend to categorize building owners in
one large lump. Out to maximize profits by minimizing expense. Certainly there are
exceptions. (and we should perhaps capitalize on the attitude of sound investment
by protection of assets). Perhaps our "safety" attitude should embrace better
argument about the economics of building ownership as well. There's nothing wrong
with convincing an owner to "do the right thing" when it comes to earthquake
design by emphasizing the pocketbook. Why stand in judgment of a persons morals if
he/she makes a decision based on priorities which don't aspire to a higher moral

The Turkish building owners and constructors will perhaps see some rough times
ahead. I can't say that justice will be done, nor do I think wringing my hands
about how terrible their building industry may have been will cause change there.

I look at our industry and say "it can be better". The parts we play as cogs in
this wheel are very important and I know we can be better spokespeople. Some may
throw up their hands and suggest that this process is "political". Maybe it is. So
what. Find the way(s) to keep priorities straight. Be inventive. Wear sunscreen.

Well I've violated my own rules and said way too much. This post is not to correct
any misstatements or untruths in Dennis's message. It just got me thinking on this
Sunday morning.... before I go the church..... and think about life.

Barry H. Welliver
Draper, Utah