What can I do to make my house more earthquake safe?
There are many ways to make your house more “earthquake safe” including bolting down and securing your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances, hiring a professional to repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines and inflexible utility connections, and fasten shelves, mirrors and large picture frames to walls.
Is my house, apartment building or business built to withstand an earthquake? What about schools, hospitals or senior care facilities?
The seismic building requirements for houses, apartment structures and commercial buildings have been enforced since 1974, and have continued to be more stringent over the years. The State of Oregon adopted building codes in 1974 which also require a house to be connected to the foundation.
Schools are required to meet a higher seismic strength than the typical commercial business structure. Care facilities have a higher seismic strength design than the typical commercial business structure and hospitals have the highest level of seismic strength design requirements.
What is the Hillsboro Building Department doing to prepare for a possible major earthquake?
The City of Hillsboro Building Department has been enforcing seismic design standards for all new buildings, additions and alterations since 1974 when the State adopted the Uniform Building Code
All Building Department plan review and inspection personnel are trained and certified to review, assess, and inspect the seismic design standards required by the Building Code.
The Building Department uses professional structural engineers to review construction plans for proposed commercial buildings to further ensure compliance with seismic design standards.
Most of the Building Department team has attended ATC-20 Post Earthquake Building Safety Evaluation training – the national standard for earthquake damage assessment. Many of the Building Department plan review and inspection personnel are also certified as post-earthquake inspectors by the State of Oregon. Most of these employees have had this certification for over 10 years.
In addition, for more than 10 years the Building Department has been prepared to quickly deliver expected services to our community by maintaining post-earthquake inspection packs prepared and equipped to support post-earthquake inspectors in the field in the days immediately following a seismic event.
How would the Hillsboro Building Department respond after a major earthquake?
City of Hillsboro Building department personnel would report as quickly as possible to the City of Hillsboro Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to help other City of Hillsboro departments in assessing the City for critical areas of damage.
Personnel certified for post-earthquake inspection would be supplied with the necessary equipment and sent to sites for rapid assessment and inspection as time and resources allowed. Assessments would be prioritized based on a variety of factors as determined by the EOC. High priority assessments would include essential facilities such as hospitals, fire and police stations, and other types of care facilities. Buildings would be evaluated based on federal ATC-20 criteria for Post-Earthquake Building Safety and are then posted with a red, yellow, or green card based on the degree of life safety hazard determined by inspectors. Regular updates would be provided to the EOC regarding damage to the built environment to facilitate emergency declarations.
Building Department services would be made operational as soon as possible to help the public in getting businesses and homes to a safe condition for occupancy. If power is out, assessments/evaluations would be done on paper to record all information.
Does it require a building permit to do a seismic retrofit?
Yes. Please contact us so we can help you through the permitting process, or visit our website here for more information about permitting.
Who can do the work to make my house or building more earthquake safe?
You can do the work as the homeowner or building owner, or you can hire a licensed contractor. Drawings can be designed by you or your contractor as long as the design meets the minimum prescriptive building code. If the design is more complicated, you may need to hire a structural engineer.
The City of Hillsboro Building Department Helpful Links and Resources web page contains a link to the Oregon State Construction Contractors Board (CCB) where you can check to ensure the company you hire is licensed.