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Secure Non-Structural Elements Before an Earthquake Occurs

Secure Non-Structural Elements Before an Earthquake Occurs

Is your commercial property ready for a powerful earthquake?

Over the last couple of years, we have all witnessed the damage that comes from a powerful earthquake. Consider the pictures we have seen in the news of the devastation in both Japan and Haiti. Both locations should remind us of the importance of building codes and proper building construction.  When considering whether we are ready, should such a powerful earthquake hit the West Coast (or anywhere in the US for that matter), most cities in the US would fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. One place to start in improving the overall safety of our commercial properties is to strengthen the non-structural elements of a building for seismic impact.

Warehouses and commercial buildings have many areas that can become hazards once the ground starts to shift and shake during an earthquake.  Equipment can collapse and often heavy items that hang from the ceiling will swing loose and fall; falling items often create dangerous conditions for those trying to safely evacuate an office building, warehouse, factory or even an apartment building during an earthquake. 

We do not often think about it, but secondary problems can also quickly destroy a building. Gas fires occur as the gas lines break. If that occurs, it is often likely that fire sprinklers will also break, creating additional disaster damage. Not only will the sprinklers not be operational to put the fire out, but you will have disgusting, sludge-filled water spray over the entire building.  Even seismic tremors that don’t bring down a building can result in many thousands of dollars in damage just from water and fire.

The following is a list of non-structural items to secure and anchor before the possible impact of a powerful earthquake:

  • Fire sprinklers
  • Racking systems that store equipment
  • Light fixtures
  • Ceiling grids
  • Equipment in manufacturing plants

The process of securing commercial buildings for the damaging impact of an earthquake often starts with an inspection for structural repairs or seismic retrofitting.  When a thorough earthquake retrofitting inspection is performed on a commercial property, structural concerns, along with non-structural issues that require attention (such as the ones listed above), are often found. Structural repairs that may or may not be directly related to earthquake retrofitting can be made on any type of building, such as masonry, concrete tilt up, steel or wood-framed buildings. Installation of roof diaphragms, Glue Laminated Beams (GLB), purlins, sub-purlin, plywood and walls are among any number of potential structural repairs that may be necessary with a complete earthquake retrofit. In the long run, an earthquake retrofit is time and cost effective, even if your building is currently occupied.

Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit, with locations in the Los Angeles area, specializes in securing and strengthening commercial buildings. If you would like more information on how to get an inspection for earthquake retrofitting or how to secure the non-structural elements of your building before an earthquake, call the professional team at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit today at 949-646-0034.

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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