Savannah Fire Is a Classic Example of Hazard Mitigation
By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
Fires are especially dangerous to historic buildings, particularly if the structure has not been brought up to speed with current building codes. Consequently, older buildings fall into an important category of hazard mitigation.
Most towns and cities have hazard mitigation plans to assess their existing buildings and floodplains and make the appropriate recommendations. But other communities lack this planning.
By assessing a community's risks and hazards and updating older structures with the latest safety measures, emergency managers stay ahead of potential disasters before they occur. These safety measures are especially important when a fire breaks out in a historic building.
National Historic Preservation Act Requires Comprehensive Evaluation of Historic Buildings
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires that “all federal actions in or affecting the floodplain or wetlands and historic properties” be evaluated for social, economic, historical, environmental, legal and safety considerations. This act is important due to the multiple evaluations it requires which give community emergency managers the opportunity to update safety and building codes.
Savannah’s Olde Pink House Restaurant Fire Results in Hazard Mitigation Efforts
In Savannah, fire broke out at the Olde Pink House restaurant during the Christmas holiday. The historic structure, dating back to 1771, requires significant repairs and various mitigation measures before the building is reopened to the public.
The fire was not a result of the building’s age. Officials say the blaze appears to have originated around a live Christmas tree in the second floor ballroom.
As a result of the fire, the building will need to be evaluated again. Emergency managers will need to ensure that the Olde Pink House meets all appropriate building code updates and is structurally sound.
Well-Designed Hazard Mitigation Policies Save Lives and Properties
All levels of government have various hazard mitigation policies in place to make sure that buildings are up to code and safe.
Updated codes and hazard mitigation policies mean that a modernized structure will require fewer resources and manpower to extinguish a fire in the building where fire prevention policies are followed.
These safety efforts and upgrades may be potentially expensive for a municipality. But it is wiser to effectively address safety risks before a disaster occurs.