Tuesday, November 13th, 2018


Post-Earthquake Inspection Training

by Sara Atkinson

Seven of our engineers recently took part in the Cal OES SAP training provided by SEAO. Cal OES SAP training prepares engineers and architects to perform post-earthquake building inspections, based on ATC-20, ATC-45 and some FEMA courses. These inspections determine if a building is safe for occupancy after an event or aftershock.

Going to this training entered our engineers into California’s responder database as potential volunteers for any future earthquakes. Oregon currently does not accept private individuals for emergency response; however, having this training under their belts may give jurisdictions more options for help in the event of an emergency.

Below is a brief Q&A with two of our engineers who attended the training:

Nikki Chinprapinporn, PE

Q: What is one piece of information you got out of the training?

A: I learned about the evaluator roles and responsibilities, the evaluation process and inspection procedure.

The roles of the evaluator are:

  1. Access the safety of the buildings that are crucial to the management of the disaster. (i.e. police station, fire station, emergency shelters)
  2. Perform rapid assessments of all other buildings.
  3. Perform detailed evaluation of questionable buildings.
  4. Perform detailed evaluations of specified lifeline systems and facilities.

The evaluation procedures use a three-placard system. These placards are used to represent the safety condition of the building.

  1. INSPECTED (green): The building can be occupied; no rooms or doorways are off-limits and no-safety issues are present.
  2. RESTRICTED USE (yellow): The building has suffered some damage but portions of it may be used. This placard must be filled out to briefly explain the damage and restrictions on how the building can be used.
  3. UNSAFE (red): The building may collapse or is unsafe to enter.


Q: Why did you attend the training?

A: I want to be able to use my engineering knowledge to help the community recover faster in case a disastrous event happens.


Q: What value do you see in engineers/architects having this training?

A: The main goal of this training is to get as many people as possible back into their buildings as quickly and safely as possible. Residential structures play a major role in the overall recovery from a disaster. If we can do that, the economy will return to normal faster. The days that people have to spend in shelters and emotional strain of the survivors would be reduced. The more engineers and architects having this training, the faster we can achieve this goal after a disaster.


Avery Morris, PE, SE

Q: What is one piece of information you got out of the training?

A: If we’re called into action after an earthquake, our charge will be to quickly assess the safety of structures. Once we evaluate a structure, we will post its condition: GREEN—safe to enter; YELLOW—conditional entry is permitted; RED—unsafe, do not enter.


Q: Why did you attend the training?

A: In the case of a nearby earthquake, we’d like to join in the recovery process. A significant part of the effort will be to evaluate the damage to a city’s building stock in an effort to allow the buildings to be re-occupied. As structural engineers, we have the training and experience to participate in this crucial part of the recovery process.


Q: What value do you see in engineers/architects having this training?

A: After an earthquake, it won’t always be evident to the untrained eye whether a building is safe or not to re-enter. This training gives qualified professionals an opportunity to use the knowledge they already have at a time of critical need. There will be great value to affected communities to have a system in place to call into action teams of inspectors that can inventory their building stock and help move their residents from shelters back into their homes and places of business.



If your company/campus is working on earthquake preparedness or you just want more information on how we can help you evaluate buildings after an earthquake, please contact John McDonald at john@catenaengineers.com.


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