For Architects, Engineers and Contractors
Engaging in Seismic Design and Installation.
In recent years enforcement of the earthquake protection requirements
in the Model
Codes for non-structural building components has become commonplace.
Architects, Engineers and Contractors are relied upon to know, understand,
design and install earthquake protection in accordance with the
requirements of those Codes. Since A & E's and contractors assume
this responsibility, their Professional Liability is at stake.
The only defense is to engineer the earthquake protection in accordance
with the printed word in the applicable Codes, Standards and Laws.
It is also necessary to apply sound engineering principles. It is
not sufficient to simply state in specifications that earthquake
protection must be provided in accordance with a particular Model
Code and then expect contractors or building inspectors to find
the appropriate solutions. In fact this practice is prohibited by
Earthquake protection of non-structural building components, such
as piping, conduit, ducts, etc., is usually accomplished with earthquake
bracing. This is a structural engineering component of the building
design, yet it has received little scrutiny from structural engineers
to insure that it is done properly. Usually the design and installation
of these braces is based on a perception of what is required instead
of the actual words that have been written into the Codes and Laws.
If you are responsible for earthquake protection of non-structural
building components, ask yourself the following questions:
Are you aware of Public
Laws 95-124 & 101-614 "The Earthquake Hazards Reduction
Act of 1977 as Amended"? This law was amended and required
the President to report to Congress on the implementation of his
1990 Executive Order 12699.
Are you aware of Executive
Order 12699? This E.O. was signed by President Bush on January
5, 1990, it applies to new construction started after January 5,
1993 and it requires compliance with the earthquake protection requirements
for non-structural building components in new construction to be
done in accordance with either the NEHRP
Standard or one of the following or more recent Editions of
the Model Codes:
a. 1997 ICBO Uniform Building Code
b. 1997 NEHRP (FEMA) Standard
d. 2000 IBC/International Building Code
Are you aware of the fact that these Laws and the Executive Order
apply to virtually all new construction that is Federally owned,
leased or regulated or other new construction that receives federal
financial assistance through loans, loan guarantees, grants or Federal
mortgage insurance (FHA, FMHA, etc.)? In other words, virtually
every new building.
Are you aware of the fact that none of the above Codes or Standards
exempt Life Safety equipment and systems from the requirements for
seismic restraints because of small sizes of pipe, conduit, duct,
etc. nor because the hanger length is less than 12" ?
Are you aware of the fact that the ICBO Uniform Building Code does
not contain the words for these exemptions for any non-structural
Do you prepare drawings or require shop drawings that are submitted
to you to include details of braces and their anchorage and that
also include load calculations? If you do not know what the loads
are, how can you determine that the structure can take those loads?
Do you ever ask how strong the fittings used in the brace assembly
are? Most brace assemblies use fittings that are substantially weaker
than the primary brace element used (pipe, angle, strut, etc.).
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Do you ever check to find out if the required braces were ever actually
If the answer to any or all of these questions is NO, you may have
a potentially serious liability problem. While nothing can guarantee
that a building will even remain standing after an earthquake, properly
engineered bracing can dramatically reduce the risk of damage to
property and loss of life in those that do remain standing. Improperly
engineered bracing would be fodder for litigation with no adequate
defense. The only defense is to do the engineering in a manner consistent
with the written wording of the Codes and laws and sound engineering
principles. And then inspect the installation to insure that the
bracing was actually installed.
These earthquake protection requirements are not going to go away.
They are after all, an Act of Congress. It does not matter whether
or not you believe that there is an earthquake risk. It's the Law.
The 1997 ICBO Uniform Building Code, 1997 NEHRP (FEMA), ASCE 7-98
and the 2000 IBC/International Building Code have very complicated
horizontal force formulas , which may result in significantly higher
seismic design loads as compared to earlier Building Codes.
In addition, Section 13080 of the Corps of Engineers Guide Spec
has been completely rewritten in order to comply with the Federal
Law. The CEGS is used by the Army, Navy and Air Force. Fire sprinkler
Sections 15330, 15331 & 15332 of the CEGS were revised in March,
1995 to unequivocally require seismic bracing on the small diameter
piping. Another aspect of the Section 13080 rewrite is a new requirement
for the engineer to certify, at the completion of a project, that
the required bracing has been installed. It is obvious that they
intend to place the responsibility for proper earthquake protection
squarely on the head of the engineer or architect. This is also
becoming a practice in civilian society.
The authors of this notice have also co-authored the Manual
of Code Compliance Guidelines on Earthquake Resistance of Architectural,
Mechanical & Electrical Components and Systems for Loos
& Co., Inc., a manufacturer of cost saving bracing assemblies
with certified break strengths of the complete brace assembly. This
Manual was written specifically to address the issues discussed
in this Notice and to provide cost effective solutions. Loos &
Co., Inc. has AutoCAD details and AutoLISP programs for AutoCAD
users. These files contain LISP routines for calculating loads and
selecting properly sized Loos & Co., Inc. bracing assemblies
and inserting the required information on the drawing. The AutoCAD
details are symbols of bracing and anchorage details for insertion
on AutoCAD Drawings. If you would like to have a copy of these files
FREE of charge, you may download them here,
or just send your request via E-Mail
and they will be promptly E-Mailed to you.
Loos & Company, Inc.
901 Industrial Blvd.
Naples, FL 34104