45179_towardssaferschoolconstruction_0 2015 - Page 26

SECTION I: INTRODUCTION Because only a narrow gap existed between school buildings, the school staff cut doors into the gable-end walls of the buildings. The ad-hoc change removed bracing designed to help the building resist earthquakes and hurricanes. With doors only at the end of the long row of classrooms, building evacuation was also serious compromised. Photo: Bill Flinn. When the site could not accommodate three standardised school building blocks, on-site engineers were able to improvise effectively, designing a staggered arrangement without compromising safety. Photo: Bill Flinn. Both successful and unsuccessful examples of design modification show that technical management can make a huge difference in school safety. Having a suite of approved design alternatives can be a good option when on-site technical capacity is low, providing the site manager with reasonable flexibility. Further trainings and quality control can then be used to bolster the technical capacity of these local site managers. However, if further training is not possible, designs can be modified effectively if both qualified engineers and architects are on-site regularly. training taught local contractors to identify high-quality sand and gravel, they often chose to purchase cheap, low-quality goods. Develop capacity and bolster livelihoods while building a culture of safety To build community capacity and place disaster risk reduction at the forefront of all decisions, Save the Children formed Safer Construction and Disaster Risk Reduction Teams at each site. The process involved creating a detailed construction manual, posters of key concepts and models of rebar bending and lapping. They also held training sessions with builders and taught risk-analysis workshops to the school PTA and community members. Even with those strong steps, building risk reduction capacity during a humanitarian response was challenging. Posters and a detailed training manual in Creole were used to communicate building schematics, material quality and the construction process. These materials were developed with the intention of helping Haitian engineers with onsite instruction. However, this communication style was not always in-sync with how local builders understood information. The team had more success with color-coded physical models showing the proper placement of steel reinforcement bars. Another challenge was that although 17 Significant training also was required to achieve the desired quality of construction. During site visits in the pilot phase, local engineers saw apparent high-quality construction but did not always have sufficient training to understand when external building elements were misleading. For them, if the required building elements were present then it passed the test but they did not always realise the quantity and placement of these elements was paramount in Haiti’s high seismic and hurricane risk environment. For example, the lack of roof gable braces and sparse nailing patterns on timber frame connectors were not seen as problematic when they should have been. While te aching local engineers about hazard-resistant design was a clear necessity in Haiti, additional benefits might have been gained by including skilled tradespeople, as well as other community members, in the earliest stages. These individuals could have assisted in some aspects of quality control, providing the double dividend of safer construction and increased community awareness on hazard-resistant construction techniques. Though it may seem unlikely that the community would spot what engineers would not, effective training from structural engineers with extensive knowledge on seismicity can increase community knowledge, aptitude and practice of safe design. The community’s long-term interest in the safety of their students might have provided extra motivation to ensure the school met top safety standards. Perhaps, just as valuable as a safer school, a more aware community may have increased demand for safer construction. Though the results may have been diffuse, the long-term impact would have been more important than any single building.