The new seismic retrofit ordinances passed in cities across California have prompted many property owners to consider the best possible solution for their property’s retrofit, with the help of a professional engineer. While there are a variety of solutions for a seismic retrofit based on building type, the use of fiber reinforced polymer systems can be a creative and cost-effective solution for a building’s retrofit.
Penhall Seismic Retrofit Services spoke with Scott Arnold, the Director of Engineering Solutions for Fyfe Co LLC., about the state of seismic retrofitting today- especially following the recent, devastating earthquakes in Mexico and elsewhere. Fyfe Co. is a producer of Tyfo® Fibrwrap® Composite Systems that have been utilized on a variety of retrofit projects around the world.
Penhall: Do you feel that recent earthquakes (here and abroad) have prompted property owners as well as cities to be more diligent in seismically strengthening their buildings?
Scott Arnold: Yes. More awareness to these events and observed damage and loss of assets has prompted legislation to address potential issues. It is a slow moving process, but clever owners will retrofit sooner than later in order to protect their assets and also save money. These retrofits don’t get less expensive as time goes by.
He is certainly correct in saying that retrofits do not lower in cost as time goes by. As the deadlines for retrofitting in California cities loom, it may be even more difficult to complete the retrofit as demand grows. In addition, when people began to see the footage of buildings collapsing in Mexico it made clear to many the danger of having seismically unsafe buildings- especially in an earthquake prone state like California. Buildings and structures that have been seismically strengthened can save lives in the case of a large earthquake.
P: Do you have any comments on the state of seismic retrofitting today compared to how it was 30 years ago?
SA: There is just as much, if not more, required seismic retrofits today as there were 30 years ago. The codes are updated every three years and mother nature is due to give us another remind any day now. Our technology is more accepted today than it was in the past, so I believe we are well positioned to capture quite a bit of necessary work.
There have been multiple earthquakes in California over the last 30 years that have reminded us all of the importance of seismic safety in building, particularly the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1980 and the Northridge earthquake in 1994. Thankfully, technological advances in seismic retrofitting have allowed for less invasive solutions that are also cost-effective.
P: Tyfo® Fibrwrap® has been utilized on thousands of retrofit projects around the world. How does it feel to know that this material is not only saving lives, but also keeping buildings habitable following a large earthquake?
SA: Solving structural problems in a more clever and cost-effective manner is quite satisfying, but I really realize the true value when I consider the fact that we have really helped protect our citizens and make our infrastructure much more resilient.
Beyond anything else, seismic strengthening in California and elsewhere is intended to save lives. Regardless of your building type- whether it is soft story, non-ductile, or URM, consider the seismic retrofit options in your area to ensure the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and your investments in the case of a large earthquake.
Penhall Seismic Retrofit Services is very excited to be a certified applicator of Tyfo® Fibrwrap®.