Strengthening buildings before an earthquake strikes can lessen damage and improve recovery afterwards. In this episode, five experts look at the costs, options, and challenges of investing in seismic retrofitting, and they discuss how retrofitting programs can help.
Janiele Maffei is chief mitigation officer and director of research at California Earthquake Authority. Among her responsibilities is managing the California Residential Mitigation Program, including the Earthquake Brace + Bolt residential retrofit program. (Bio)
Jessica Chappell is a licensed professional structural engineer in Utah and Alaska and has worked in structural engineering for over 20 years. She is a Principal at Structural Design Studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, and currently volunteers with the Utah Seismic Safety Commission (USSC), the Structural Engineers Association of Utah board (SEAU), Envision Utah, and the Cottonwood Heights City Planning Commission.
Amanda Hertzfeld is the Unreinforced Masonry Retrofit Program Manager for the City of Seattle, tasked with developing and implementing the policies required to retrofit the estimated 1100 URM structures in the city’s building stock. Prior to this role, she was the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Volcano Program Manager for FEMA’s Region X, which includes the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Shyann Hugoe and Barb Tobin are the Community Development Grant Specialists for Salt Lake City’s Fix the Bricks Program. The Fix the Bricks Program provides funding to Salt Lake City homeowners that live in unreinforced masonry homes (URMs) to help cover the cost of seismic retrofits. The program is a life safety program, and its purpose is to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries that can occur in an earthquake.
- Brace + Bolt (California)
- Fix the Bricks (Salt Lake City, Utah)
- City of Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections: Unreinforced Masonry Buildings
- Structural Risks: wood frame and soft story (California Earthquake Authority)
- Strengthen Your House (California Residential Mitigation Program)
- Strengthen Your Home or Building (Earthquake Country Alliance, Step 4)
- Protect Your Property from Earthquakes (FEMA brochure)\
- City of Seattle Emergency Management: Unreinforced Masonry Buildings (URMs)
- Utah Seismic Safety Commission (popular publications)
- FEMA’s BRIC grant (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities)
- Amanda Hertzfeld’s recommendation for further reading: The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them), by Dr. Lucy Jones. New York: Doubleday, 2018. Library of Congress listing