Architects Provide Expertise in the Aftermath of a Disaster: Are You Ready to Help?

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This is the first in a series about the work of the AIACC’s State Agency Liaison Committee (SALC). SALC was developed to increase member participation, increase effectiveness, and strengthen our relationships with state agencies affecting the practice and profession of architecture.

The fact is disaster will strike. And in a state as seismically active as California, Californians know to expect earthquakes and aftershocks as unique part of its charm.. For architects’ the fact is this “charm” must be considered and design for, but our responsibility for building occupant safety doesn’t end there.As architects, we see where the man-made environment touches the natural environment and we can anticipate the results. As advocates for our clients, and for the public, we are involved in local, state, and federal activities that affect the public’s health and safety through the built environment. As part of the AIACC’s advocacy efforts, we have a strong relationship with Cal-EMA to rally volunteers to assist local governments in safety evaluation of their built environment in an aftermath of a disaster.

As part of the AIACC’s State Agency Liaison Committee (SALC), David Karina, Assoc. AIA, of Dynamic Engineering & Inspection, Inc. serves as the AIACC’s liaison to Cal-EMA. Mr. Karina is past president of the American Construction Inspectors Association (ACIA), one of the five professional organizations partnering with Cal-EMA. He currently also serves on the Advisory Board of DSA and the Steering Committee for Cal-EMA.

One of the architectural profession’s greatest contributions to public health and safety is also the one most rarely in demand – skilled and expert response assistance after a disaster. Architects can serve as Safety Assessment Program (SAP) Evaluators. Their primary responsibility is to survey damaged facilities to determine any safety hazards to occupants or the general public, and provide recommended posting of placards denoting condition of each structure evaluated.

Upon completion of this one-day course, qualified attendees may be called upon to volunteer their time to assist local government in rapid safety assessment of their community after an earthquake or other disaster. The Western Council of Construction Consumers will be offering CAL-EMA SAP Training in several regions throughout California; the next training is January 12, 2012, in Walnut Creek, CA.

The training will include the most currently updated Cal-EMA curriculum, practical examples of post-disaster field conditions impacting structural safety, assessing degree of severity, posting, and barricading procedures, etc., including detailed response activities following the April 4, 2010, 7.2 Baja Earthquake along the California/Mexico border.

For more information about the SAP program click here.

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Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA

Kurt T. Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, is the Director of Regulation and Practice. With experience in the profession and over 15 years as an advocate on behalf of the architectural profession in California, he is passionate about protecting and advancing the profession.

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