Unified Fire Looking To Rebuild Or Upgrade 15 Fire Stations In Case Of Earthquakes
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Hospitals, data centers, police and fire stations – these are just some of the most crucial locations for first responders in case of an earthquake. But will their own buildings be in tact if “the big one” hits?
The Unified Fire station in Magna on the city’s Main Street celebrates its 40th birthday this year.
“It was 1979 that this Magna station was built,” said Capt. Eric Holmes. “Back then, of course, building codes were a lot different and we’re due for an upgrade here in Magna.”
The Magna fire station is just one of 15 fire stations that Unified Fire is examining to make sure they can stand up during an earthquake.
“If the stations fall down or if they get damaged in a relatively light earthquake, they’re no good to us,” said Asst. Chief Mike Watson.
Fire stations aren’t the only public buildings that could be at risk.
“Police stations, fire stations, publicly owned utilities could be critical,” said Joe Dougherty with the Utah Division of Emergency Management. “Operation centers, data centers or communications and dispatch centers are all the things we want to make sure are still functioning to their very best capability.”
Emergency officials estimate there are around 150-thousand buildings across the Wasatch Front that could be damaged or destroyed in a large earthquake.
Most, like the Magna fire station, are made of brick or block.
“If a building was built before 1975, that was before some of the modern seismic building codes were in effect,” said Dougherty.
Unified Fire says ten of its fire stations need seismic upgrades, like replacing foundations. Five stations, including Magna’s, will need to be completely rebuilt.
Authorities say it’s not a luxury for firefighters, but a necessity in case disaster strikes.
“In a major disaster such as an earthquake, there will be disruptions to everything we depend on and we need our first responders to be able to do their very most heroic work possible,” said Dougherty.
The Division of Emergency Management recommends all local governments do what Unified Fire is doing and take a good look at how well it’s crucial buildings can hold up in an earthquake.
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