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March 31, 2010 > State reinforces earthquake safety measures for California

State reinforces earthquake safety measures for California

Submitted By Devon Berrier

The State & Consumer Services Agency (SCSA) applauds the Seismic Safety Commission (SSC) and the Building Standards Commission's (BSC) history of adopting stringent building codes and enforcement practices to safeguard Californians.

California is a world leader in seismic-safety building codes and enforcement infrastructure. Since 2001, California has instituted ground-breaking building codes to better mitigate seismic risks, incorporating major revisions to the seismic design requirements, following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and including significant increases, up to 50 percent, in earthquake-design loads for buildings close to active faults.

As the worldwide series of earthquakes continue, it has become evident that not only can superior building codes save lives but also strong building code enforcement infrastructure can significantly reduce the number of casualties and lower property loss in a catastrophic event.

"Living in California, we're constantly reminded that seismic activity is a risk - earthquake or tsunami," said SCSA Secretary Bill Leonard. "The best way to mitigate the potential damage of such activity is through superior building codes, education and public awareness. The Governor should be proud of what his administration has accomplished to mitigate the catastrophic risks of earthquakes."

"In the wake of the devastating damage caused in Haiti and Chile and by the tsunami in Indonesia, it's critical California does all it can to be prepared," said Richard McCarthy, Executive Officer of the SSC. "By joining forces with the BSC and developing a stringent and complete earthquake-safety building standards code, we'll be better prepared for future catastrophic seismic events."

For commercial and residential buildings, California provides an enforcement infrastructure for code-compliance that is one of the strongest in the world for public schools and hospitals and includes the testing of building materials and continuous inspection. The 2010 California Building Code will be implemented January 1, 2011 and will include enhanced earthquake-protection standards by refining a number of design-seismic forces in different regions of the state.

"The 2010 California Building Code makes huge strides for earthquake protection in this state," said Dave Walls, BSC Executive Director. "Not only does this code include some of the strictest building standards in the world, it also allows for cities and counties to amend the codes to reflect the immediate needs in their region. The building standards will continue to improve and reflect the safest conditions for the people of this state."

California Buildings Standards Commission and Seismic Safety Commission joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to observe "Tsunami Awareness and Preparedness Week 2010" (March 21 - March 28) and reinforce the message that seismic activity is not limited to just earthquakes; tsunamis also pose a threat to California. In response to the "California Earthquake Preparedness Survey" released in early March, both Commissions are working to inform Californians of the great impact an earthquake or tsunami would have on this state and how to be prepared for such an event.

Fore more information, visit www.pd.dgs.ca.gov (State & Consumer Services Agency), www.seismic.ca.gov (Seismic Safety Commission), www.bsc.ca.gov (Building Standards Commission).

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