Brick buildings are charming, and people are trending back to reviving historical buildings. When was the last time you saw a nice brewery in a rustic brick building? Or a white painted brick wall in a gelato place? Probably recently. Just because a business is in a brick building or a unit is up for rent in a brick building, doesn’t mean that the building is a safe place to be during an earthquake.
The lessons learned from past earthquakes get incorporated into the building codes for all future structures. However, all of the structures built before that time are still at risk. Sometimes the government passes ordinances to fix structural deficiencies found in older buildings, but some people choose to be out of compliance. This is common with brick buildings. Is this allowed? How do I know if I live in an unsafe building?
Chimneys made of bricks are likely to fall during an earthquake. People often overlook this major weak spot. Your single-story wood-framed house may be safe during an earthquake, but if the brick chimney falls into the house or across your front yard, it could cause injuries.
A large earthquake just hit! Is this the mainshock or a foreshock or an aftershock? Nobody knows until the earthquake shaking starts again in the next day or week. Is another earthquake inevitable? Can the experts predict aftershocks?
During an earthquake, soft story buildings pose an extra risk. Some soft story buildings collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. Cities around California are now catching up by adopting soft story ordinances and requiring retrofits. Do you live in a soft-story building?