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Los Angeles-area, CA, March 10, 2021 —
In January 2021, FEMA and NIST released the “Recommended Options for Improving the Built Environment for Post-Earthquake Re-Occupancy and Functional Recovery Time”, a report that details the latest reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), P.L. 115-307., as well as recommendations from FEMA and NIST for improving the built environment, community resilience, and re-occupancy and functional recovery concepts in the events of natural disasters/hazards.
One recommendation in particular suggested by FEMA and NIST is to “Develop and Implement Building Occupancy Resumption Programs” (Task 5.5). Building Occupancy Resumption Programs (BORP) originated in the City and County of San Francisco in 1989. These programs were formed on a voluntary basis in response to the Loma Prieta earthquake by SEAONC (Structural Engineers Association of Northern California), AIA (American Institute of Architects), and the local chapters of the Building Owners and Managers Association. The goal of BORP is to give private building owners the opportunity to expedite the structural inspection process, and either safely reoccupy their building or initiate necessary repairs.
“One key ingredient to achieving the ideal of functional recovery is to shorten the time between shut-down after a disaster and putting a facility back in operation. A BORP does exactly that, by arranging in advance to have a site specific-trained and city-authorized inspector on site, so the buildings can be assessed and back in operation much sooner than would otherwise be possible.” – David Cocke, SE
In 2010 Structural Focus began efforts to establish BORP Back to Business (B2B) in Southern California, working with cities and building owners to develop alliances. In 2012, the City of Glendale, DreamWorks Animation and Structural Focus entered into the first Southern California BORP B2B program. Since that time, Structural Focus has finalized numerous B2B agreements with cities and building owners, including Sony Pictures Studios, Disney, Warner Bros. Studios, and Paramount Studios. Note that Structural Focus’s B2B program blog was cited in the FEMA and NIST report on pages 54 and 55 as a model program that “allow(s) building owners to get re-occupancy information in shorter timeframes than a local jurisdiction’s staff is likely to be able to provide.”
What is a B2B Program?
- The B2B arrangement is made prior to the disaster with emergency inspectors, who are licensed structural and civil engineers or architects with special training in emergency structural inspection.
- Emergency inspectors tour the building, review available drawings, and determine the structural system before the disaster so that they may target their inspections and provide more accurate occupancy posting in less time.
- Emergency inspectors are temporarily deputized by the Building Official in the event of a disaster to provide inspection of the B2B-approved building only.
- Business interruption is kept to a minimum as private building owners can expedite the structural inspection process, and either safely reoccupy their building or initiate necessary repairs.
Structural Focus’s subsidiary, SAFEq™ Institute, was founded in 2014 and is an expert consulting resource for building owners, risk managers, engineers, and local jurisdictions seeking to minimize facility and business interruption losses caused by disasters. SAFEq™ Institute provides training and certification of individuals to provide emergency structural inspection and evaluation of buildings and other structures affected by disasters such as earthquakes. The Institute seeks to keep those who provide emergency inspection in a “ready” state by ensuring they have the most current knowledge of the state of practice of emergency building evaluation and facilitating sharing of real-world post-disaster experiences.