Unreinforced Masonry Buildings in Utah
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.
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.