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The Importance of the Right Structural Engineering Help when an Emergency Occurs

May 3, 2017

By Doug Fell, PE – Executive Vice President/Chief Operations Officer

Storms, floods, lightning, excessive rain or snow, impacts, arson, vandalism, terrorism, fire, material or design defects, construction issues, structural overloading, structural modification – these and other natural and manmade situations can result in catastrophic damage requiring emergency response.

You don't know what you don't know.

The more you learn about something, the more you realize how much you didn’t know before. This applies to structural engineers responding to an emergency situation with damage to facilities and structures.

Many facilities have long and successful relationships with contractors and structural engineers who address the day-to-day repairs and modifications to their facilities. But when serious catastrophic damage occurs, it may be time to call in someone with the appropriate training and experience to deal with these kinds of events. This experience and training can be crucial in protecting the safety of those needing to enter the damaged structure, as well as protecting site data that may be helpful in the investigation and reduce the time for the facility to be returned to service.

Having a structural engineer responding to an emergency without the appropriate training and experience can lead to some significant problems:

  • Contractors and structural engineers making decisions that negatively affect the facility owner
  • Removal of debris without proper attention to documentation and preservation of potential evidence
  • Temporary repairs that do not adequately protect the site
  • Safety risks related to structural, chemical, and environmental conditions
  • Classification of the facility as “too damaged to enter,” preventing timely investigation
  • Future challenges to decisions made by the engineer on site due to their lack of experience and appropriate training


An established relationship with trained and experienced experts can ease your mind when you're faced with an emergency.

Emergency events do not need to be large or catastrophic to require the assistance of a well-trained experienced emergency response structural engineer.

By all means, keep your relationship with the contractors and structural engineers you rely on for the day-to-day needs of your facility. Add to that the peace of mind of having a relationship with a well-qualified, properly trained, and experienced structural engineer that specializes in emergency response structural engineering cases and that can be called in on short notice to assist in your facility needs after an emergency damage event.