Safety assessments are performed after a building has gone through an emergency evacuation and suffered damage. These assessments help determine if the appropriate safety measures were taken and what could have been done better to increase the safety of occupants. Many major disasters have caused severe damage to buildings and left many injured. These occurrences over the last twenty years have increased the concern of building safety and regulation compliance. A standard code did not exist for many years. Instead every region of the country had their own guidelines that were followed along with city ordinances. The consistent damage and injuries sustained in emergencies were noticed by the International Code Council. They believed that compliance would be easier to accomplish through combining regional regulations into a uniform set of guidelines. They include structural safety, fire safety, number of egress locations, and communicative IBC compliant exit signs.
Major Disasters That Increased Building Safety and Compliance Awareness
In 1994, the Northridge earthquake became one of the most significant and horrible disasters in American History. The disaster resulted in fifty-seven fatalities. Thirty-three died during the quake or a few days after due to severe injury. Over eight thousand injuries resulted and of these approximately sixteen hundred needed to be hospitalized. Financial losses equaled that of Hurricane Andrew. This is because it was one of the strongest earthquakes ever experienced in the United States. There were many lessons learned from this tragic event. Engineers developed structures that were more sustainable under earthquake conditions. Building codes were changed to incorporate safer structural requirements. The importance of disaster preparation and building code compliance became more apparent.
The Loma Prieta earthquake is another disaster that encouraged the formation of International Building Code regulations. This big quake took place in 1989 in California. It affected San Francisco Bay and left perilous damage in a matter of ten to fifteen seconds. The quake itself was measured as a 6.9 on the Richter scale. Resulting fatalities totaled sixty-three. Over three thousand people were injured. Between three thousand and twelve thousand individuals became homeless after the quake. As with the later earthquake in Northridge, the need for more uniform codes and better preparation became more apparent. Many events caught the attention of the International Code Council in regards to code compliance and public safety.
Hurricanes throughout the years have also been a direct trigger for IBC compliant exit signs and communicative markings. When Hurricane Andrew hit the Bahamas and Florida in 1992, the damage was phenomenal. Homes, office buildings, and commercial locations all were structurally harmed by heavy winds. Damages were in the billions and many were injured. During this crisis, contractors and structural developers were criticized for bad practices and insufficient codes. Florida regulations were very strict and regularly enforced. Buildings did have some construction flaws. Design flaws, construction flaws, ineffective building codes, outdated regulations, and disorganized disaster plans all contributed to the creation of one uniform set of building code regulations. These regulations are used all over the country today and updated frequently to ensure the utmost safety of building occupants.