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School District Begins Seismic Study

A recent report from the state of Utah indicates that many of Utah’s school buildings fall below current seismic safety standards, in large part because they were build before the new seismic codes went into effect in 1975.

However, before this study was released, Wasatch County School District Construction and Maintenance Manager Francis Harrison has had conversations with the board of education concerning this issue and had already started the process to solve the critical issues with the seismic capabilities of the buildings in Wasatch School District.

The majority of Wasatch County Schools were built with the enhanced seismic codes in place but several building predate that improvement in construction standards.  

Timpanogas Intermediate School, the older portion of Midway Elementary School and the Alternative School (the old high school seminary) all were built with the older codes and need to be examined to determine what improvements need to be made to improve their ability to provide safety during an earthquake.  At Thursday evening’s school board meeting, Mr.  Harrison spoke to the board about the need to organize a Selection Committee to choose a structural engineer to perform the study on those buildings.

The charge to be given to the selection committee once they have accepted the request from the school district to join in the process is to examine the qualification of interested structural engineers.  In so doing, they will make sure that those firms which participate are actually capable of producing the detailed study needed to design the upgrades which will need to be made.

This is the first step in a longer process.  Once the selection committee is in place, they will recommend a structural engineer to the board.  After the board approves the selection of the engineer, that firm will begin the study and will eventually present their results to the school board.  At that time, the board will examine the information provided about the improvements needed and will decide what action is necessary.

BY JOHN MOSS   01/26/2011

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