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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 11, 2015
Andrew J. Kinney, Thurston County Emergency Management, 360.867.2827

Engineers help Thurston County Washington Assess Earthquake Safety of School Buildings
20 schools to be evaluated

OLYMPIA, WA. - A new effort is underway in Thurston County, Washington, to assess the earthquake safety of its school buildings. Volunteer engineers representing the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and other regional engineering societies will be visiting approximately 20 schools this autumn to evaluate and assess their seismic safety.

"We hope that our volunteer engineers can give Thurston County and its school district administrators a better understanding of their earthquake risk portfolio," said Structural Engineer Cale Ash, the program's project manager. "We will be using these assessments to identify possible earthquake vulnerabilities, while also introducing possible mitigation solutions that could increase safety for building occupants."

Many school buildings in Washington have been designed for earthquakes, and generally will provide a good level of safety during future earthquakes. Some older school buildings, however, were constructed under building codes that lacked seismic design requirements, or had lower requirements than more current standards. Some of these schools may not provide an adequate level of earthquake safety.

"Thurston County greatly appreciates the help of these volunteer engineers," said Andrew Kinney of the Thurston County Emergency Management Division. "These assessments will be a useful tool that can help the school districts solicit funds and focus limited resources on retrofitting or replacement of the buildings that pose the greatest risks from earthquakes."

Several recent efforts have been conducted in the State of Washington focused on school seismic safety assessment and mitigation planning. A pilot school seismic safety assessment effort was completed in Aberdeen and Walla Walla in 2010, helping to determine buildings that were the highest priorities for retrofits or replacements. In 2012, the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) conducted a statewide mitigation plan focused on K-12 school facilities with funding from a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant. This project will build upon, leverage, and utilize outcomes from these efforts.

Media Contacts:

  • John Schelling, Washington Emergency Management Division, 253.512.7084, john.schelling@mil.wa.gov
  • Cale Ash, Degenkolb Engineers, 206.262.9240, cash@degenkolb.com
  • Andrew J. Kinney, Thurston County Emergency Management, 360.867.2827, kinneya@co.thurston.wa.us
  • Stephen LaBounty, EERI, 510.451.0905, media@eeri.org

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) is a US-based, nonprofit, multi-disciplinary technical society of experts dedicated to reducing earthquake risk by (1) advancing the science and practice of earthquake engineering, (2) improving understanding of the impact of earthquakes on the physical, social, economic, political, and cultural environment, and (3) advocating comprehensive and realistic measures for reducing the harmful effects of earthquakes. EERI members include engineers, geoscientists, architects, planners, public officials, and social scientists, who are researchers, practicing professionals, educators, government officials, and building code regulators. Our members are organized into EERI committees, projects, and both regional and student chapters to implement our mission. www.eeri.org



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3