“Earthquake Awareness: Protect Your Property and Tenants” was the subject of a free lunchtime workshop of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association at the Brookside Golf Club recently.

”Californians live and work in earthquake country. Our experience in the Ridgecrest area, reminded us that strong earthquakes can be devastating for both residents and businesses in a few moments,” says Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Little. “We were very pleased to see some 80 Pasadena business property owners attend this informative event to learn what they can do in advance to protect their business properties.”

Leading experts presenting at the event included: California Institute of Technology Seismology Lab Manager Margaret Vinci; Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral T. Washington; and Optimum Seismic, Inc. Chief Operating Officer Ali Sahabi.

“This workshop was a very important step to increasing public awareness of how we can make Pasadena safer,” says Sahabi, chief operating officer of Optimum Seismic and a leader in seismic resiliency and sustainability.  Optimum Seismic, which hosted the workshop and luncheon, has been in operation since 1984, and has completed hundreds of projects to make buildings earthquake resilient. 

“It’s important to understand that a major earthquake striking our urban area can, in an instant, destroy buildings and businesses, ruin homes, and kill and injure many people,” adds Sahabi.

Sahabi cited the powerful example of the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys, California, which suffered extensive damage in the 6.5-magnitude Sylmar earthquake in 1971. The company was forced to cease operations in order to repair its facility. The self-proclaimed “King of Beers” experienced additional financial losses as its competitors cut into the company’s market share during the aftermath of the quake. Recognizing the serious consequences of being unprepared for a natural disaster, the brewery upgraded its 95-acre facility, built in 1954, with earthquake retrofits and new construction designed to meet the latest seismic standards.

Anheuser-Busch invested $1.2 million in seismic retrofits and other upgrades — an expense that saved the business more than $1.1 billion in combined property and business losses when the 1994 Northridge quake hit, according to state and federal officials.

Even though the brewery was located just a few miles from the epicenter of that devastating 6.7-magnitude temblor, none of the retrofitted structures in its compound was damaged. The brewery was quickly returned to nearly full operations following minor cleanup and repairs.

Caltech’s Vinci spoke about extensive network of seismic faults in Southern California and the importance of having a business emergency plan before a disaster. “Know what your hazards are in your business,” she urged. “Know what your weakness are.  You drill your plan every year, and by drilling you find out what your weaknesses are.  There is always something that you can improve upon.”

She cited the example of Biola University in the City of La Mirada which participated in the Great California Shakeout earthquake drill in 2014.  Biola officials then identified the weaknesses of their campus.  Since then Biola has retrofitted six of its buildings, placed emergency speakers around its campus and taken numerous other actions

Optimum Seismic partners with a number of Chambers of Commerce as well as business and professional organizations on seminars and events designed to enhance public awareness of earthquake resilience.

Margaret Vinci, California Institute of Technology Seismology Lab Manager

Margaret Vinci, California Institute of Technology Seismology Lab Manager

Bertral T. Washington, Pasadena Fire Chief

Bertral T. Washington, Pasadena Fire Chief

Ali Sahabi, Chief Operating Officer, Optimum Seismic, Inc.

Ali Sahabi, Chief Operating Officer, Optimum Seismic, Inc.

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