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Can Your Building Withstand a Devastating Earthquake?

Can Your Building Withstand a Devastating Earthquake?
 

There have been several devastating earthquakes that have occurred in the last few years. Consider the impact of the earthquakes in both Haiti and Japan.  Both locations serve as reminders of the importance of building codes and proper construction.  In the United States, most cities would fall somewhere in between these two extremes.  If you are a commercial building owner or manager in the Los Angeles area, you may wonder what improvements may be necessary to strengthen your property.  One of the first improvements that may be needed is to strengthen and secure the non-structural elements of your building for seismic impact.

Most commercial buildings, including warehouses, are full of potential earthquake hazards – things that no one thinks about until after the ground starts to move and shake during an earthquake. Heavy items hung from the ceiling can swing and fall and even equipment can collapse; they are catastrophe’s waiting to happen.  These hazards can potentially create critical conditions for employee safety when employees need to evacuate a building during an earthquake. There are a number of other problems that can occur, and these hazards can quickly demolish your building. For instance, if your fire sprinklers break, not only will they not be operational to put a fire out but you will have nasty, sludge-filled water spray all over your building. An additional concern would be the security of any gas lines on a commercial property, as gas fires are common when the lines break.  Even a small earthquake that doesn’t completely destroy your building can result in thousands of dollars of water or fire damage to your building.

The process of securing commercial buildings for the damaging impact of an earthquake often starts with an inspection for structural repairs or seismic retrofitting. Seismic retrofitting for structural integrity typically reveals non-structural issues that require attention as well, including items that should be secured before the impact of an earthquake.  Fire sprinklers, light fixtures and ceiling panels need to be secured to avoid possible injury to employees or further damage to equipment.  Shelving and racking systems that store plant equipment, inventory and supplies should be strongly anchored in place, as well as all equipment in manufacturing plants.

A thorough evaluation of your commercial building may also find necessary structural repairs that may or may not be directly related to seismic retrofitting.  Structural repairs may be needed on any type of commercial buildings, including concrete tilt up, masonry, steel or wood-framed buildings. These structural repairs can include installation of Glue Laminated Beams (GLB), roof diaphragms, purlins, sub-purlin, and walls.

When contemplating seismic retrofitting, it is usually a good time to consider getting an inventory of all needed changes, structural and non-structural, even if your building is occupied.  Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit specializes in the repair, retrofitting, and reconstruction of occupied buildings in the Los Angeles area.  If you would like more information on how to get an inspection and estimate for seismic retrofitting, or how to secure the non-structural elements of a building before an earthquake, please call Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit Los Angeles today!

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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