Seismic Protection

Earthquake-Proof Storage Upgrades Operations at Salt Lake City Public Safety Building

Salt Lake City, Utah might not come to mind when creating a list of earthquake-prone cities in the United States, but in reality, seismic activity is something that is always on the horizon. The city’s proximity to two connected faults—the Wasatch Fault in the east and the West Valley Fault Zone—have the ability to combine and produce powerful earthquakes, and the city usually has a “D” or “E” seismic building design category.

While the segments of the Wastach Fault that underlie Salt Lake City produce a strong earthquake (a magnitude greater than 6.5) on average every 1,300 years, it’s worth noting that the last major earthquake on the Salt Lake City segment was 1,300 years ago—and experts predict that the fault is overdue. Awareness of the fault has increased over the past several decades, and many large structures in the Salt Lake City area have undergone extensive seismic retrofitting—but a recent report suggests that as many as 200,000 unreinforced masonry building would be vulnerable. To put that number in perspective, the nearby state of California only has 25,000.

“This building is designed to withstand a 7.5 earthquake,” says Tim Doubt, who serves as the Deputy Chief for the Salt Lake City Police Department. “And not just withstand, but continue to operate through as well as after it. We won’t lose power or services.”

Once the system was designed to properly integrate with the building’s interior, the storage consultants turned their attention to reinforcing the rails and carriages of the mobile systems. Rails for the systems were drilled to accommodate a deeper embedment in the concrete of the building, and all of the mobile systems within the building were outfitted with Spacesaver’s Seismic L Rail for anti-tip capabilities. This reinforcement allowed for smooth movement of the carriage, but it also served a hidden benefit—to prevent the overturning of the mobile system’s carriages as well as provide stability in areas where the mobile system was higher than it was wide.

Supports, carriage fasteners, and the static shelving within the mobile systems were also configured for earthquake-proof storage to make sure the material stored within the system would risk minimal damage. In addition, static shelving configurations, such as the system set up for the Salt Lake City Fire & Police Museum, were configured with an overhead anti-tip system to provide maximum protection against potential seismic forces.

For the officers and staff that work at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, the earthquake-proof storage is one important component of an all-encompassing solution—one that will keep the department safe, and, in turn, keep the residents of Salt Lake City safe in case of a disaster. “If you wanted to be safe in case of emergency in Salt Lake City, this would be the place to be,” says Salt Lake City PD Detective Bill Silver.

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