SEAOC Supports Fire Relief Efforts

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The structural engineering community rallies to help assess structure safety, support recovery efforts for Northern California fires

The recent devastating fires in Northern California remind us, once again, that the power of nature can be staggering. The Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) extends its deepest sympathies to all those affected by the disastrous fires in Sonoma, Napa, and surrounding seven counties. The loss of life is saddening and the extent to which residences and businesses were lost is overwhelming. Whether as part of the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) response or by providing design services during recovery, the structural engineering community and SEAOC stand ready to assist the rebuilding effort.

Cal OES sent out a Reserve Corps Activation Notification on Oct. 15 seeking volunteers registered with the Safety Assessment Program (SAP). These structural engineering volunteers may be utilized by local jurisdictions to help assess the safety of affected structures to allow re-occupancy within affected zones as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, many homes and structures were total losses. However, others remain needing assessment before owners can return. SAP-certified engineers with current ATC-20 training status are reminded to contact their local organization to confirm their SAP Deployment Volunteer Availability. One SEAONC member has already been deployed to Napa and there may be additional deployments in the near future.

SEAOC thanks the responding firefighters and law enforcement personnel for their valiant handling of this crisis. Their efforts, and those of the many healthcare professionals continuing to care for their communities, despite all the challenges that they faced without power, water, medicine, or equipment, are strong examples of dedication to the communities they serve. The unprecedented crisis serves as a wake-up call for the state. SEAOC is committed to taking lessons learned from this event to develop effective processes in preparing our members to support the wide range of response efforts, helping to ensure that future natural disasters, such as earthquakes, do not become catastrophes.

SEAOC, one of the oldest associations for Structural Engineers in the world, believes the engineer’s role does not stop at the structure, but extends to our ability to affect lives for the betterment of the community. We strongly encourage our members to seek ways to make a lasting and positive impact on the lives of those affected by the fires throughout California as they work to recover. There are many ways to do so, a few of which are listed below:

For our members in Northern California, an ATC-20 SAP training class will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at Santa Clara University. If you need to renew or initiate your certificate you can register here:

The Community Foundation of Sonoma County has launched the Sonoma County Resilience Fund to help with the mid- to long-term needs of Sonoma recovery.

The Napa Valley Community Foundation started its Disaster Relief Fund in 2014 after the earthquake there impacted South Napa. Mobilizing a similar response for fire victims, the foundation intends to work with government agencies to identify recovery areas in most need and offer assistance including grants to smaller, local nonprofits.

Local news sources, such as SFGATE, are also providing links containing information identifying other ways to provide assistance.

About SEAOC: The Structural Engineers Association of California (SEAOC) is an authoritative world leader in the practice of structural and earthquake engineering, a nationally influential participant in structural code and standard development, and a valuable resource to practicing structural engineers. To learn more, visit

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Alison Corley
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