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      American Institute of Architects Helps Train 162-Member Team for Safety Assessments in Tornado Ravaged Alabama

      Contact: John Schneidawind
      571-243-1295 ©

      For immediate release:
      New Orleans – May 11, 2011 –
      The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Alabama Council assembled a specially-trained, 162-member team of architects, engineers, building inspectors and fire marshals from across the country who began performing safety assessments in Alabama this week on homes and structures in the wake of the devastating tornadoes that tore through parts of this state on April 27.

      The effort is part of the continuous commitment by the AIA and its local chapters to provide disaster assistance wherever possible to communities hit by any number and kind of disasters, from earthquakes to hurricanes to floods. On Monday, the assembled team in Alabama began by performing safety assessments, which determine whether buildings are safe for permanent occupancy, temporary or partial occupancy or if structures need a detailed damage assessment and additional work.

      “We are gratified and grateful for the volunteer spirit that has been displayed by our professional colleagues in all these areas of expertise,” said Mike Chapman, President of AIA’s Alabama Council. “This type of expertise is exactly the kind that’s needed to get past the initial shock of the devastation and to begin the long process of recovery and reconstruction.”

      “We have volunteered with local building departments since the early 1970s and consider it a privilege to assist those in need where and when we can with our expertise,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “The AIA’s Disaster Assistance Task Force advocates for and educates other architects to evaluate damage to structures affected by natural events, so we may keep people safely away from further harm and return them to their homes as quickly as possible.”

      Leading the training was Stan Peterson, AIA, of Kansas, who will be giving a presentation later this week on disaster assistance at the AIA National Convention, which kicks off here tomorrow. The team was assembled by Rhea Williams, executive director of the AIA Alabama Council’s Birmingham chapter as well as by Butch Grimes, AIA, an architect based in Tuscaloosa, hit hardest by the storms.

      Of the total trained, 24 were engineers (as a result of AIA Alabama Council's continuous and immediate collaboration with the Alabama Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC); 18 were building inspectors; 40 were Fire Marshals and 80 were architects. At the conclusion of training all were given a photo ID and certificate, formed into teams, given their maps, and put to work. 

      All were trained using both California's Safety Assessment Program (SAP) as well as the ATC 45, (Applied Technology Council's Field Manual: Safety of Buildings after wind Storms and Floods).

      “As experienced disaster responders, we are reaching out to offer any support we can as our members assist their clients and communities in evaluating the damage and moving forward with recovery,” said Rachel Minnery, AIA Disaster Assistance Task Force Chair.  

      For building officials that need assistance in safety assessments, please contact the AIA Alabama Council at (334)264-3037.

      About The American Institute of Architects
      For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


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