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After-Disaster Inspection Program Empowers Business Owners

Nov 06, 2014 12:42PM ● Published by Peri Kinder

An earthquake hits the Salt Lake Valley. There’s extensive damage, and crews are working hard to create safe shelters, get people back in their homes and keep residents away from dangerous buildings. But, as a business owner, how can you be sure your structure is safe for customers and employees? How long will it take for business to resume?

These are situations Murray City’s Chief Building Inspector Gilbert Gonzales hopes to address with the new Building Occupancy Resumption Program. The Murray City Council established this voluntary program in August to help facilitate the reopening of businesses after a natural disaster.

“If a disaster happens, our priority is not going to be the businesses. Our concern is about public safety, with our highest concerns being homes and shelters,” Gonzales said. “[If businesses] are participating in the plan, they can [inspect] their own buildings. We want these buildings to be operating as soon as they can after a disaster.”

Participants in BORP will be trained to self-inspect qualifying buildings and will be allowed to indicate through signs (or placards) how structurally safe their place of business is. A red notice means the business is unsafe to enter; a yellow sign notes some damage or partial restriction; and a green placard means the structure is safe to enter.

Currently, only five city officials are certified to placard buildings following an emergency, which could mean a backlog of inspections, leaving many businesses closed for days or weeks. Gonzales said as business owners go through the BORP training process, they will be able to resume operations faster after a natural disaster by visually assessing their own buildings.

“Murray City modeled this plan after Salt lake City, who modeled their program after San Francisco,” Gonzales said. “This is a great opportunity for businesses, and we’re excited to get it up and running.”

Business owners interested in participating in BORP training can call Gonzales at 801-270-2413. He will help companies create an inspection plan and organize a design team. The program usually takes 10 days to complete and is free to business owners. Gonzales is also willing to meet with organizations to answer questions about the program.     

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