The North Ridge Quake And California Wild Fires Should Have Something In Common American Engineering Innovation Birthed After Earth Quake Disasters
This January will mark the 25th anniversary of the devastating Northridge earthquake, and we're taking a look back through photos of the damage it caused — and the humanity that shone through despite the destruction.
The quake killed 58 people, injured more than 9,000, displaced 125,000 residents and damaged or destroyed more than 82,000 buildings in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
The U.S. Building Industry made positive strides and progressed after the North Ridge And Loma Prieta Quakes by learning from a disaster and making wood framed structures stronger in ground movement and high wind loads. Not only did we learn and adapt, but we increased from 3 story wood framed to 5 story wood framed for high density housing.
Soft-story structures, popular on the West Coast, are typically multi-story residential buildings built above a ground-level garage, tuck-under parking garage or a storefront. Their mixed use design often means wider openings and fewer partition walls on the first story than on the upper stories, leaving soft-story buildings structurally vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake. During the 1971 San Fernando, 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes, soft-story buildings sustained major damage or collapsed entirely.
For years, cities on the West Coast have recommended soft-story retrofits for thousands of residential structures to increase building resiliency. Cities such as San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles have already passed laws that require a mandatory retrofit for certain soft-story residential buildings, and many other cities are following suit.
Simpson Strong Wall Earthbound and other seismic control products had to prove their engineering values just like all the chemical and processes in Wild Fire Defense needs to be vetted now.
What The Northridge Quake and todays Wild Fires don’t have in common is we feel safer from earthquakes today after Northridge but we do not feel safe at all over Wild Fires.That is because we took earthquake loss to a whole new level fast after North Ridge and retro fitted all our freeways and buildings along with changing codes. We need to take Wild Fire Defense to a whole new level now. We cannot have this kind of threat every year and think more fire trucks and more planes is the answer.