Early on November 22, 2006, the Department of Public Safety (Department) was made aware of the frightening event that took place in the Town of Danvers; an explosion that rocked the rural neighborhood had awakened residents for miles. Upon receipt of information regarding the blast, the Department immediately dispatched two (2) state building inspectors to the scene. Although not first responders, the Department employs building inspectors who are ready and able to assist with any and all building related emergencies. Additionally, the Department enjoys a cooperative arrangement between the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federation of Massachusetts Building Officials (Federation) to respond to local emergencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond to emergencies that occur beyond the borders of the Commonwealth.
Soon after the two state building inspectors, Department Commissioner Thomas G. Gatzunis arrived on the scene. After a brief assessment of the situation, Commissioner Gatzunis, in consultation with Danvers Building Commissioner, Richard Maloney, ordered support of additional state building inspectors and directed Department staff to contact Federation President, David Moore to request assistance through the Federation. In total, the department deployed eight (8) state building inspectors and the Federation provided the assistance of five (5) municipal inspectors.
Upon arrival, state and municipal inspectors immediately began to assess building damage employing techniques acquired through training provided by the Applied Technology Council (ATC) of California. The ATC first developed building damage assessment techniques to assist in the aftermath of frequent seismic events that occurred in and around the state of California. The technique, known as ATC 20 or Rapid Building Damage Assessment, establishes procedures to allow building code enforcement officials, engineers or other qualified individuals to quickly determine whether a building is safe to occupy in whole or in part, is safe to occupy only for brief periods as repairs are made or is simply unsafe and dangerous. Using this system, inspectors mark buildings following damage assessment by affixing color coded placards in accordance with the system below.
Green Placard - Inspected (No Restriction, safe to occupy)
Yellow Placard - Limited Entry (Off limits to unauthorized personnel)
Red Placard - UNSAFE (Do not enter or occupy)
Recent storms here in the commonwealth and elsewhere in the country have demonstrated a need to ensure that skilled professionals are available to assist with building damage assessment, whether caused by natural or other events. In fact, through the cooperative arrangement mentioned above, Massachusetts deployed 7 municipal and 3 state building officials to Mississippi toward the end of 2005 to assist with similar efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Certainly it is the hope that events requiring employment of such techniques will not occur. However, it is imperative that we are prepared to deal with them if or when they do. Since 1995, the Department has educated over 600 municipal and state building officials in ATC 20 as well as ATC 45 procedures to ensure that we are prepared for such events. (ATC 45 establishes similar procedures to assess damage due to high winds or severe storms.)
Department staff wishes to extend best wishes to all those who were affected by the events of November 22, 2006 for a speedy recovery and return to normalcy. Notwithstanding these events, it is hoped that each resident in and around the area is able to enjoy the holiday season and look towards a bright future.
Additionally, Department staff wishes to thank all those who responded to the scene to assist in whatever manner possible. In particular, DPS wishes to thank Danvers Building Commissioner, Richard Maloney and Assistant Inspector, David Harris for their tireless efforts to ensure that area residents were able to reclaim their property quickly and re-occupy their homes safely; and wish to recognize state and municipal inspectors who sacrificed time away from family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday to assist in the aftermath of the blast.
Please enjoy a safe and happy holiday season
State building inspectors responding to the scene______________________
Bill Robbins and
Municipal Inspectors included________________________________________
Federation President, David Moore
Burlington Inspector, Andy Ungerson
Carver Inspector, Mike Mendoza
Grafton Inspector, Robert Berger
Former Milton Inspector, Steve Crawford and
Retired Inspector, William Gedraitis