Unreinforced Masonry

Unreinforced Masonry

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in Utah

Utah Division of Emergency Management (DEM), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 8, and local partners have engaged in a multi-year effort to reduce the number of unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings in Utah. Our goal is to help the public understand their earthquake risk and the steps necessary to prepare and protect themselves, their family and their property.

What is a URM?

A URM building has brick walls with few or no steel reinforcing bars. During an earthquake, URM buildings are more likely than modern structures to collapse, both inward and outward, and crumble on top of people, cars, sidewalks or structures in and around them. URM buildings are typically older structures. In the 1970s, building codes in Utah were updated to outlaw the construction of new URM buildings.



Mitigation Efforts


Utah Division of Emergency Management (DEM), alongside our partners, is working to raise awareness of known or potential URM school buildings, the risks the buildings pose, and pathways towards reinforcing or replacing them. As a part of this effort, a statewide inventory of K-12 public school districts that are believed to have URM buildings is underway. The findings of this report are projected to be available in 2022.

This effort is a continuation of the “Wasatch Front Unreinforced Masonry Risk Reduction Strategy,” released by Utah DEM, the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program and FEMA in March 2021. This document provides guidance to Utah communities on how to identify their own risk and take steps to address it. A key recommendation made within the strategy includes the development of an Unreinforced Masonry School Risk Reduction Program. Read the full strategy here.

Visit Be Ready Utah for information on how you as an individual can prepare for earthquakes at home.

For More Information


It is our responsibility as community members to be aware of the earthquake risk in our region so we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. For more preparedness information on earthquakes in Utah, download any of the following documents on the threat posed by earthquakes in the state and ways to prepare and recover.

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Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country

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Wasatch Front Unreinforced Masonry Risk Reduction Strategy

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The Utah Guide for the Seismic Improvement of Unreinforced Masonry Dwellings

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Bracing for the Big One

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Frequently Asked Questions

Unreinforced Masonry (URM)