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Words of Wisdom Wanted

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Look and see how things failed.  If you see several to a lot of members that 
failed in the same manner, you can just about rule that these are secondary 
failures --- that they were overloaded as a result of the primary failure.  
Look for the failure that is unique and that is where collapse probably 

Having a year and a half pass before you got a chance to look at it is really 
bad.  You have to sift thru effects of weather and other things that might 
have camouflaged the actual cause.  The repairs that were done may have 
inadvertently destroyed the initiator of the collapse.  Get copies of as many 
photos that were taken immediately after the collapse as you can.  Local 
newspapers and television stations might have some that were not published or 
aired.  The jurisdiction's building safety office should have some.  Above 
all, the insurance adjuster for the building owner has photos, but he/she 
probably did not take pictures of the right parts of the failure.

Good luck.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Richard Lewis wrote:

>>I am about to visit a site which had a structural failure, with my lawyer.  
I designed a building several years ago which used a plywood box beam rigid
frame type structure.  There was a failure in April 1998 and apparently a
large portion of the roof collapsed.  We found out about the failure when we
received the first papers of a lawsuit in September 1999.  The primary
defendant is the supplier of the plywood rigid frames.

What I would like is some words of wisdom as to what "tell tale" signs to
look for at the site to try to determine the cause of the collapse.  Things
like how things fell indicate what happened, etc.  Also, any reference on
this kind of forensic engineering would be helpful.  Perhaps even questions
to ask.  I'm not sure how much our lawyer will let me talk.  Part of the
building was repaired and put back in service.  Part of it is supposed to be
untouched from the collapse 1-1/2 years ago.

Thanks for your help.