California Earthquakes a Reminder to Strengthen Disaster Response Efforts, Says National Demolition Association

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Demolition contractors, with fleets of specialized equipment and highly trained employees, are uniquely qualified to support disaster response teams. The NDA urges local governments and agencies to pre-qualify contractors now in order to provide immediate and effective response.

Following both natural and man-made disasters, demolition contractors have provided invaluable assistance to first responders, helping them react more quickly and skillfully to these events.

The recent swarm of earthquakes in the Los Angeles area is another reminder to local and state governments and agencies responsible for emergency management to include demolition contractors on their disaster response teams, said Jeff Kroeker of Kroeker Inc. in Fresno, CA, and President of the National Demolition Association.

“Following both natural and man-made disasters, demolition contractors have provided invaluable assistance to first responders, helping them react more quickly and skillfully to these events,” Kroeker said. He pointed out the essential work demolition contractors performed following the 2011 magnitude-6.3 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the disastrous 1994 magnitude-6.7 Northridge quake in Southern California which killed dozens of people and caused $25 billion in damage.

“Since Christchurch is New Zealand’s second largest metropolitan area, the experiences of our members working there could provide some valuable lessons to agencies in earthquake-prone area like Los Angeles, San Francisco and potentially even Seattle,” Kroeker said. He and other representatives of the National Demolition Association met last year with experts from the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) to identify ways demolition contractors can strengthen the agency’s response to disasters.

Cal EMA has declared April Earthquake Preparedness Month.

At present, it’s unlikely that the recent magnitude-5.1 and magnitude-4.4 quakes would be precursors to a much larger quake, according to CalTech seismologist Kate Hutton, quoted in a recent article in USA Today, noting that Southern California gets more quakes than any other part of the contiguous United States. Neither of the two larger quakes was on the famed San Andreas Fault.

The fact that these two earthquakes did not cause extensive damage is just another reminder that communities and agencies should prepare their response now, in advance of a major disaster, Kroeker said. “This is why the National Demolition Association is determined to alert communities now so that they are prepared,” Kroeker said.

“It’s been the stance of the National Demolition Association that contractors should be pre-qualified by local entities and involved in the planning stages so that response can be immediate,” said Michael R. Taylor, CAE, Executive Director of the association. Among the tasks demolition contractors can handle include site clearance to allow access, urban search and rescue, and the re-establishment of the vital infrastructure. Following all life-saving measures, the contractors handle salvage and recycling and structural dismantlement.

The National Demolition Association has prepared a Demolition Contractor Skilled Support Personnel Pre-Qualification Checklist for local and state governments to use to help them prepare more effectively. The survey is found on the association’s website under the “Industry Topics” tab in the “Disaster Response” section. In addition, a video documenting the damage to the city of Christchurch following its 2011 earthquake is also available for viewing.

A quick find online directory of NDA Members and Associate Members and their specialized skills can be found on the NDA homepage.

About the National Demolition Association
The National Demolition Association is a non-profit trade organization representing approximately 800 U.S. and Canadian companies and many international firms that are involved in the demolition process. Membership includes demolition contractors, general contractors, civil engineering firms, and recycling, landfill, and salvage operations. The association’s efforts help members stay abreast of environmental, regulatory and safety matters, keep regulators informed about issues facing the industry, increase public and industry awareness, and provide members with networking opportunities and information on the latest technical advances in equipment and services. The website is Twitter: @NDAMakingWay; Facebook:

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Elva Clements
Alvare Associates
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