A message from SEAOC President Janah Risha
Friday, August 31, 2018
Devastating Fires – How can SEAOC help?
Yet again another devastating fire season is upon us. From the Ferguson Fire to the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest fire in California History, many areas of our state have been severely impacted this season. As I write this message the headlines read: “California’s largest fire ever keeps growing as winds fan flames” (LA Times). Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, 11 people have died and still there is no end in sight. This is disheartening; our sympathies go to the families of the casualties and the ones impacted by these disasters. I can’t help but wonder what Structural Engineers can do to help mitigate the risk. Should we get involved in prevention efforts by advocating for more responsible development in rural and remote areas? Should we work towards stringent Code provisions for improved fire rating of structures? Should structures in Very High Severity Zones be built with non-combustible material? These are certainly challenging questions. If some of our members have expertise in fire protection and planning, I believe we can bring our passion for seismic safety to this issue. I will be suggesting to the Board that SEAOC form an Ad Hoc committee to explore what can Structural Engineers do to mitigate this deadly and environmentally destructive hazard.
Report on July SEAOC Board meeting
The SEAOC Board had its 3rd meeting on July 13 in Sacramento. Here are the highlights:
The financial condition of SEAOC is certainly improving. A combination of belt tightening and additional income is resulting in better results than were originally budgeted for. It is possible that we are starting to curtail the losses and will end up with a breakeven year.
The Professional Practices Committee has been quite active. Chair Mark Gilligan reported that the committee is continuing its work on updating the Guidelines for the Practice of Structural Engineering in California (1999). A draft is anticipated to be ready for Board review by the middle of next year. In addition, the committee is seeking clarification of an engineer’s right to perform special inspections by virtue of their registration as a CE or SE.
The legislative committee Chair Ryan Kersting summarized progress and SEAOC’s work on AB 1857 and AB 2681 which have advanced out of their respective Senate policy committees and now head to the Senate fiscal committee. SEAOC has taken a Support position on both bills. AB 1857 has been amended significantly to require convening a working group, when funding is available, to discuss the performance goals of the CBC. To prepare for this working group and to provide a coordinated position, EERI requested and the Board voted to collaborate with EERI on developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between both organizations to work jointly on the definition of a “functional recovery” standard prior to convening the wider AB 1857 stakeholder group.
If the bills advance out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Legislative Committee plans to issue “floor alerts” for both bills asking that SEAOC members urge their own State Senators to vote yes on the bills.
Ric Moore, the Executive Officer of BPELSG, reported on several matters including the appointment of SEAOCC’s Alizera Asgari as the SE member of the licensing board; the pass rate on the April NCEES structural exam being lower than usual, likely owing to changes in the exam; BPELSG is undergoing its sunset review, the Legislative process every four years through which the Board is reauthorized to operate. Mr. Moore further noted that movement toward adding a continuing education requirement for engineers would likely require support from all engineering disciplines, the Legislature, and the Governor’s office. As for a potential “significant structures” amendment to the PE Act, the current sentiment among policymakers toward new licensure standards leans more toward inclusiveness and access rather than restrictiveness. Alizera Asgari, the new SE representative on BPELSG and recently a member of the BPELSG SE Technical Advisory Committee, introduced himself to the SEAOC Board and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate.
From the Publications committee, Chris Kamp reported that work on the 2018 IBC SSDM is about to start with Raphael Sabelli and Katy Briggs leading the charge; the publication is expected exactly one year from now. As for the highly anticipated Wind Design Manual, the final reviews and proofreading are almost complete. The manual is scheduled to be published in time for the Convention – please stay on the lookout for it. SEAOC is eager for stellar sales of the Wind Design Manual not only in California but across the United States.
The Board discussed various possible nominees for NCSEA Special Award and voted to nominate Norm Scheel and Ryan Kersting for the Robert Cornforth Member Organization service award, and Ryan Kersting and Kevin Moore for the NCSEA Service award. Also, all 4 Member Organizations elected to submit for a NCSEA Grant for very timely and worthy endeavors.
The Convention Committee is putting the final touches on what will be a fantastic event. From a stellar technical program to wonderful social events, lunches, and dinners, this convention is not to be missed. This year, the CSI dinner will also feature the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards. Shepherded by none other than the legendary Ashraf Habibullah, in coordination with our Communication Committee Chair, Ken O’Dell, this event alone is worth the trip to the desert! So please hurry to sign up and make your hotel reservations before the special room rate sells out. A huge thank you to the committee members, Mike Cochran and Tim Kaucher, and Diane and Doug Thompson who are chairing it. See you in Palm Desert!