Rebuild Haiti with Seismic Safety Principles in Mind, ICC Urges

Building in earthquake-prone areas anywhere requires certain design and construction approaches that acknowledge the unique hazards and risks posed. Rebuilding Haiti in a sustainable way will require those approaches, and even while the area is only beginning to pick up the pieces, the International Code Council says it stands ready to help ensure seismic safety principles are part of the strategy.

”As Haiti moves in the coming days and weeks from the challenges of immediate response to those of short-term and long-term recovery, we encourage the smart application of proven seismic safety principles to rebuild Port-au-Prince and other Haitian communities. We know that damage, fatalities and injuries from earthquakes can be reduced by code adoption and enforcement,” said Richard P. Weiland, chief executive officer of ICC, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization made up of code officials ranging from building inspectors to fire suppression officials, along with architects, engineers, developers, building owners, and others involved in the building safety community.

”The many members of the Code Council who work in seismically active regions know firsthand the value of these codes and the techniques to ensure their effective enforcement,” Weiland said. “While building to newer codes may result in slight increases in construction costs, studies show that every dollar spent on building safer and stronger prevents four to seven dollars in future losses.”

Weiland added that ICC supports the efforts of the U.S. State Department and other federal agencies, along with the United Nations and other international relief organizations, to ensure that Haiti is rebuilt in a manner that creates disaster resilience. “The seismic provisions of the International Codes are regularly updated to reflect the latest knowledge about earthquake dynamics and building behavior, and can function as an important tool in the Haitian recovery effort. We can provide written materials, subject-matter expertise, and professional development to ensure a safer and more sustainable Haiti,” he said.

”The events in Haiti once again teach us that any effort involving rebuilding should require construction that utilizes the best available information on codes and code enforcement. Events of similar magnitude result in different impacts based on how a nation and community approach their management of the built environment. Our codes are intended to protect people inside buildings by preventing collapse and allowing for safe evacuation. Structures built to the most modern codes should resist minor earthquakes without suffering damage and ride out severe earthquakes without collapsing.”

ICC develops model codes that have been adopted in all 50 states, and are either adapted or used as resources around the world including nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, and the Middle East. The family of International Codes includes specific sections addressing natural hazards, which are regularly updated in coordination with U.S. federal agencies and reflecting current data and field experience.

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