Category Archives: Disaster Response

NEWS AND UPDATES – DISASTER ASSISTANCE TRAINING HELD AT NJIT

AIA-NJ HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE
NEWS AND UPDATES – DISASTER ASSISTANCE TRAINING HELD AT NJIT
by: Laurence E. Parisi, AIA – Regional Disaster Assistance Coordinator.

Two individual AIA-NJ training sessions were held on April 1st and 2nd. The first session was for Architects with prior Disaster Assistance Training to become certified as Trainers, to enable them to train and qualify new Volunteers in Safety Assessment. The second day [pictured above] was held to train architects and engineers in volunteer disaster recovery assistance. Promulgated by AIA-NJ President Justin A Mihalik, AIA, the two day sessions were a tremendous success.

April 1, 2016 was no fool’s day for the11 members of the AIA-NJ and AIA-NY who attended the first of the two day training sessions. Participating in the 8 hour “train the trainer” disaster assistance program were the executive members of AIA-NJ and AIA-NY. The training for both sessions was headed up by Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA from Orlando, Florida and assisted by Laurence E. Parisi, AIA Chair of the AIA-NJ Homeland Security Committee, former AIA-NJ President. Mr. Lingerfelt is an experienced trainer of the California Safety Assessment Program.

We are truly fortunate to have Michael as our trainer. This is the third training session he has headed up for AIA-NJ; in my opinion he is the most invigorating trainer on the planet. Working with Michael on these disaster assistance programs has been an enriching and rewarding experience. By providing and supporting this event, our intention is to expand the training capabilities of AIA-NJ and AIA-NY. It is a benefit to New Jersey and New York, as coastal states, to be able to conduct training sessions for volunteering architects and engineers to be certified as card carrying Safety Assessment Workers by the California Safety Assessment Program. As we have learned from the recent past, disaster may strike at any time, and preparation is necessary.

April 2nd was just as explosive as April 1st, as nearly 100 architects and engineers attended the daylong disaster assistance training session. Sponsored by AIA-NJ, the goal of this program is to train professional architects and engineers as certified volunteer assistants in rapid recovery in the event of a catastrophic disaster such as Super Storm Sandy.

These training sessions will continue to be held periodically as an ongoing effort to strengthen and increase the number our professional volunteers. To date, we have approximately 300 architects and engineers in New Jersey that have been certified by the Office of the California Emergency Management as safety workers. Following a disaster, these safety workers will be able to respond to an affected area and evaluate the safety of homes and buildings.

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 AIA-NJ “Train the Trainer” attendees pictured from left to right: Justin A. Mihalik, AIA President AIA-NJ, Verity Frizzell, AIA President Elect, Kurt Kalafsky, AIA Past President, Kimberly Bunn, AIA Immediate Past President, Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA, Trainer and Laurence E. Parisi, AIA, co-trainer and Past President.

We truly appreciate the hands-on efforts and logistical support of Ms. Laura Slomka, AIA-NJ Executive Assistant. We also wish to thank Urs P. Gauchat Dean of the School of Architecture and the administration of NJIT for allowing us to conduct our training at their facilities for these past sessions and all of the training sessions we’ve conducted.

AIANJ and AIANY COALITION TO PROVIDE DISASTER ASSISTANCE

THE AIA NEW JERSEY AND AIA NEW YORK COALITION TO PROVIDE DISASTER ASSISTANCE TRAINERS

The “Train the Trainer” event was held on April 1, 2016 Pictured from L to R: Tim Boyland, AIA AIANY, Mark Kruse, AIA AIANY, Verity Frizzill, AIA, Kurt Kalafsky, AIA, Kimberly Bunn, AIA, Dan Horn Assoc. AIA NY, Justin A. Mihalik, AIA, Illya Azaroff, AIA AIANY, Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA Trainer, Laurence E. Parisi, AIA Co-trainer.

The “Train the Trainer” event was held on April 1, 2016 Pictured from L to R:
Tim Boyland, AIA AIANY, Mark Kruse, AIA AIANY, Verity Frizzill, AIA, Kurt Kalafsky, AIA, Kimberly Bunn, AIA, Dan Horn Assoc. AIA NY, Justin A. Mihalik, AIA, Illya Azaroff, AIA AIANY, Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA Trainer, Laurence E. Parisi, AIA Co-trainer.

 

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NJ DCA Announces RREM and LMI Training Session

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Sandy Recovery Division is hosting a Training Session about the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program and Low- to Moderate-Income (LMI) Homeowners Rebuilding Program from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30th, at the Moonachie Civic Center in Moonachie, Bergen County. Below, please find a flyer with additional information. This session is intended for both architects already working with homeowners in the program and those interested in working with homeowners in the program.

People interested in attending are asked to RSVP to Lisa Ryan at [email protected] at least one day prior to the Training Session to reserve their spot and to submit any suggested questions or topics they would like addressed if time permits. If you have any questions about this program, please contact Lisa Ryan.

Lisa M. Ryan
Director, Strategic Communications
Sandy Recovery Division
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs
PO Box 823
Trenton, NJ 08625-0823
(609) 292-7083
[email protected]

Builder Outreach Flyer 3-2016

 

2016 AIANJ Disaster Relief Training

AIAeagle_2016Post Disaster Safety Assessment Program Training and Certification Seminar

April 2, 2016 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

at NJIT Weston Lecture Hall

Click Here to Register

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Hurricane Preparedness Refresher

Joaquin Path 093015

 

Although the exact track of Hurricane Joaquin remains uncertain, since New Jersey is within the potential track area, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the need for proper hurricane preparedness. Please take a few moments to review the information on the National Weather Service website, which can be found here.

Last Day for Post Disaster Training “Early” Registrations

Sign-up for Post Disaster Assessment Training Today

Early Registration ends today – April 1st –
Registrations after April 1st will not include Training Manual (a $50 value)

April 11, 2015
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
at NJIT School of Architecture
6 AIA HSW CEU

Click here to Sign Up now !

2015 Disaster Training Promo II with background color

AIA New Jersey Creates Task Force on Lightweight Wood-Framed Construction

edgewater-fire-chopper-2

 

TRENTON, N.J. (March 2015) — In the aftermath of the Avalon Edgewater Building Fire, the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) has announced the formation of a task force of member architects to review possible improvements to design practices and building codes and standards in order to enhance building safety in New Jersey.

The Task Force will examine various issues specific to lightweight wood-framed buildings and make recommendations that, if implemented, could reduce property damage, provide additional time for people to reach safety, and allow the fire service more time to effectively address these emergencies.

Justin Mihalik, AIA

Justin Mihalik, AIA

Chaired by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA New Jersey President-elect, the AIA New Jersey Task Force will build upon its standard code advisory processes and conduct these additional meetings to review lightweight wood framing design issues and formulate recommendations to assist New Jersey policymakers in promulgating regulations that will make buildings of this type safer.

“Improving building safety through smarter design has always been a priority of architects,” said Justin A. Mihalik, AIA. “AIA-NJ is prepared to further assist public safety officials in this shared goal with the creation of this task force.”

The Task Force will make advisory recommendations on containment methods and use of lightweight wood-framed construction materials. These recommendations will be formulated into a written report to be presented to official agencies with the intent of improving building safety in the Garden State and around the country. Task force members will include David Del Vecchio, AIA, Robert M. Longo, AIA, Jason Lutz, AIA, William J. Martin, AIA and Yogish Mistry, AIA. The Task force is expected to complete this work in the coming months.

AIANJ Takes home Component Excellence Award from Grassroots Convention

Submitted by Justin A Mihalik, AIA, Co-Chair, AIA Regional Recovery Working Group

aianj_GR15_award3The AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference is always a great event to kickoff the new year as an AIANJ Leader.  This year it was even sweeter as AIANJ took home a Component Excellence Award for Expanding & Sharing Knowledge through the AIA Regional Recovery Working Group (AIARRWG).  The AIARRWG was formed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy by Illya Azaroff AIA, AIANYS, and co-chaired by Justin Mihalik AIA, AIANJ.  The Group organized three workshops focusing on the effects of Sandy on Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark, the Jersey Shore, as well as the State’s infrastructure and critical buildings.  Some of the comments received from the jurors included,

“This is a very strong submission demonstrating collaboration among components and states to promote knowledge of resilience best practices.”

“This is a great example of how components can work together to achieve measurable results on a topic of great importance to the profession. We can all learn from this program!”

“This very strong effort brought together various players to the table in a symbiotic manner with a collective vision and shared goals. I am not aware of any such other strong showing of organizational achievements lead by the AIA, specifically to assess a post-disaster situation, to the extent of what occurred with Sandy. I would hope that these efforts remain in the forefront with the state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over events such as Sandy.”

On behalf of the AIARRWG, we are very proud of the work we have done and the honor of being recognized by AIA.  The AIARRWG will continue its work to help connect the victims with the various resources in the State, as well as share information with our allied professional organizations and the State of NJ.  If you are interested in joining the AIARRWG please contact Justin Mihalik AIA at [email protected].

NJ Disaster Safety Assessment Seminar

 

Registration Open Now for Post-Disaster Certification program.

April 11, 2015
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
at NJIT School of Architecture

Click here to Sign Up now !

 

 

2015 Disaster Training Promo II with background color

Lightweight Construction Materials – the Public’s Perception

Mihalick_2014Submitted by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA 
2015 AIANJ President-Elect

As a result of the AvalonBay fire in Edgewater, I was interviewed by PIX 11 news and Al Jazeera America as a representative of AIANJ, for the Architect’s perspective on lightweight wood construction materials.  Architects understand that the building code takes into consideration the use group of a building as well as the construction type of materials in order to determine how then to protect the materials being used in order to meet a minimum standard and to be considered “safe”.  But what is the public’s perception of “safe”?  After all, as Architects, it is our responsibility to design “safe” buildings.  In watching many Youtube videos and reading white papers on the subject of lightweight construction as I prepared for the interview, I found that the public’s perception of engineered lightweight materials, mainly wood I-joists, is that they are “cheap”.

 

There are a few reasons for this that I can understand from a lay person’s perspective.  One being that the material used for the web of the I-joist, which is oriented strand board or OSB, appears to be a cheap wafer board.  A second one is that after a fire, not much of a structure built with these materials is still standing.  Being interviewed at the AvalonBay site, it did not take an experienced eye to see that the stair towers and elevator shafts that were constructed of masonry concrete block were the only structures standing amongst a sea of wood debris.  It was clear to the eye that the masonry concrete block was far superior to the wood because it had survived the fire.

Architects also understand that the building code does not require the building to fully withstand a fire but only that it withstands the fire long enough for its occupants to escape in a safe manner.  The public does not understand that this is in fact the way the building code works.  It is up to the Architect and the owner of the building to design it in such a way that it potentially can withstand a fire and the effects of fighting the fire in order to minimize the reconstruction.  So is the public wrong for having the perception that engineered lightweight wood materials are cheap?  Or is it the industry’s fault for allowing this perception to exist?

There is one other party that should be involved in this conversation and that is the insurance industry since they are making the payouts on policies to then reconstruct these buildings.  Fortunately, no lives were lost in the AvalonBay fire.  So do we then believe that the building code was sufficient?

Any Architect that has been involved in repairing/reconstructing a building after a fire understands that it is a liability nightmare and that the best approach for the owner is to rebuild the structure.  Rebuilding instead of repairing should not be a problem since the insurance policy covers for the “replacement value”.  Well, anyone who has worked on a fire job also knows that the term “replacement value” is vague and does not guarantee that this “value” will in fact cover the full cost of the reconstruction.  A question for Architects to consider is the following: how sustainable or resilient are the current practices in constructing single or multi-family buildings if they cannot withstand a fire?

Recently legislation was proposed by Republican Assemblyman Scott T. Rumana, bill A4195 (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A4500/4195_I1.HTM), and if approved it would impose a two year moratorium on the use of lightweight construction materials in multi-family buildings.  The proposed bill not only includes engineered wood, but also traditional nominal wood and steel bar joists.  If approved, this bill would be devastating to the construction industry and would affect not only job creation, the housing market, but also architectural firms.  Safety is ultimately the most important issue when it comes to buildings.  Does this bill take this too far?