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Multihazard Mitigation Council Projects

Standing Committees

The Multihazard Mitigation Council has five standing committees:

The Education and Communications Committee recommends ways of providing Council-related content on a consistent basis and a communications plan.

The Finance Committee identifies appropriate funding opportunities (grants, donations, etc.) that can support the mission and initiatives of the MMC.

The Legislation Committee maintains awareness of proposed legislation that may impact the goals of the MMC and its constituency.

The Multihazard Committee addresses conflicts that exist between standards/guidelines for different hazards, including those that encourage action and others that discourage action; the interrelationship between hazard impacts, mitigation, etc.; and approaches for addressing communication limitations between and within agencies who address mitigation issues.

The Symposium Committee coordinates the logistics associated with selecting topics and speakers, and securing sponsors for a symposium held each year during Building Innovation - the Institute's Annual Conference.

To find out more about serving on one or more subcommittees, please see the contact information.

Project Archives

Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities

Assessment of Mitigation Savings

The congressionally mandated independent study to assess future savings from mitigation activities has been completed and delivered to Congress. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) commissioned the project that started in 2000. The study was conducted in two phases resulting in two reports. For Phase II a Project Management Committee (PMC) was established with a coordinating Project Manager. The committee reviewed Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) and subsequent Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and after thorough consideration selected the Applied Technology Council (ATC) to conduct the study. Oversight was provided by the MMC Board. The links below will take you to the report.

Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities

The documents below are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. PDF

Phase I of the study identified the data needed for the assessment and reviewed potential methods for assessing the benefits of hazard mitigation measures. It is a detailed work plan and budget estimate for conduct of Phase II. The effort was conducted by an expert committee possessing experience and expertise in various aspects of hazard mitigation and benefit assessment. The link below will take you to the Phase I report.

Mitigation Savings Project Phase 1 Report

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Temporary Housing Solutions

Over the years, a variety of temporary housing schemes have been suggested to FEMA but the agency lacked a mechanism for assessing the adequacy of these schemes in a consistent and quantitative manner.

In September 2006 MMC was tasked by FEMA to assist in developing and evaluating innovative and practical strategies and solutions for providing temporary housing that incorporates safe building and hazard mitigation standards and practices. To conduct this project, the MMC has supported the Joint Housing Solutions Group (JHSG), an interagency working group tasked with developing innovative and practical solutions to temporary housing needs after large disasters.

Initial activities were focusing on contributing to the development of a tool for evaluating alternative housing solutions in a quantitative manner. An MMC Board Oversight Committee was formed and a working group was established to bring together resources needed as the work progresses.

Given recent legislative changes, the MMC also will help FEMA evaluate nontraditional temporary housing solutions that are viable alternatives but that have been outside existing federal authorities. In cases where a nontraditional solution appear to provide viable solutions, the MMC will formulate recommendations on how and where they might be used and whether any further modifications of existing authorities or new authorities would be necessary to permit their use.

The evaluation tool, called the Housing Alternative Tool (HAT), has been developed and is presently being tested. Several MMC representatives joined with the JHSG and a subcontractor in field testing the tool with manufacturers of various temporary housing candidates across the nation. The FEMA policy decision to restrict the use of the traditional FEMA travel trailers has placed more emphasis on pre-evaluation of vendor products to meet the needs for future response. An Internet-based version of the tool is available for use by housing manufacturers and the field testing is continuing.

Although this task has been completed, the MMC Board is in the process of drafting a white paper on the need for peer-to-peer mentoring in the post-disaster environment. Consideration is being given to recommending a pilot program involving code officials and some of the associations representing the nation’s smaller communities.

Serving on the MMC Board Oversight Committee are Ken Ford, Philip Ganderton, Michael Gaus, David Godschalk, Gerald Jones, David McMillion, Dennis Mileti, Ann Patton, Timothy Reinhold, L. Thomas Tobin, Brent Woodworth, and Eugene Zeller.

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Translation of the NIST World Trade Center Investigation Recommendations into Building Codes

Since late 2005, the NIBS/MMC has been assisting NIST in translating the recommendations resulting from its World Trade Center investigation into the model building codes. Issues related to practices, standards, and codes arising from the WTC study recommendations include the need for increased structural integrity, enhanced fire resistance of structures, new methods for fire-resistance design of structures, enhanced active fire protection, improved building evacuation, improved emergency response, improved procedures and practices, and improved education and training for engineers and architects.

To begin the process of translating the NIST recommendations, the NIBS/MMC has focused primarily on the codes of the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) but also has involved development of a suggested strategy for identifying changes needed in various standards of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and others.

The committee conducting the effort is co-chaired by Gerald Jones, retired building official from Kansas City, and Herman Brice, Fire Rescue Administrator for West Palm Beach County.

The group met in October and December 2005 and again in February, May, and July 2006 to consider submittals to the ICC by March 2006. In doing so, it has worked closely with the ICC’s Code Technology Committee and ad hoc Committee on Terrorism Resistant Buildings.

At its May 2006 meeting, the committee provided a forum for input on what long- and short-term actions need to be taken to mitigate the effects of disproportionate collapse and to hear about National Fire Protection Association planned actions with respect to the NIST WTC investigation recommendations. In July, the group met to review all proposals submitted to the ICC that relate to the NIST recommendations, to finalize proposals to be submitted to NFPA, and to determine who would represent the committee at the ICC hearings in September 2006. In November, the group convened to review the results of the ICC hearings and to determine whether public comments would be submitted.

The committee participated in a May 2007, teleconference to review the public comments on ICC proposals and develop positions for the ICC annual meeting. It convened for what was expected to be the last time in mid-July 2007 to discuss the next ICC code development cycle and the need for comments on the disposition of proposals submitted to NFPA for NFPA 101 and 5000. At this meeting, NIST asked NIBS/MMC to provide a budget for committee operations through the next year. Staff subsequently submitted this budget and the original contract was modified to provide the needed funding.

Following this meeting, several public comments were prepared for submittal to NFPA. Because sufficient time was not available to develop committee consensus, these comments were submitted by members of the committee as individuals. The group met in January 2008, to prepare for the ICC hearings in Palm Springs, California and again in May 2008 to decide whether public comments should be submitted.

NIST has extended the contract to early 2009 for MMC to continue being the focal point for advice on WTC-related code and standard change proposals.

The committee conducting the effort is co-chaired by Gerald Jones, retired building official from Kansas City, and Herman Brice, Fire Rescue Administrator for West Palm Beach County.

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Development of Fire Guidelines

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has tasked the Multihazard Mitigation Council to develop Best Practices Guidelines for Fire Safety Design of Concrete and Steel Structures. Building on a workshop held in October 2003 that laid out a roadmap of topics requiring future development, NIST is stepping forward with one of the many topics discussed.

The Fire Guidelines has a five person steering committee and four lead authors who have been collaborating with others to examine risk mitigation as well as concrete and steel structures design. The Guide will include appendices with information on existing guidelines, research needs, and design examples. A workshop for interested professionals to review and comment on the guidelines draft was held in March 2005. After the workshop, the comments have been incorporated into the document which is now in the finalization stage.

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Community Planning Fellowship

In an effort to raise awareness and ensure that hazard mitigation is effectively incorporated into future urban and rural planning, the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) started the Community Planning Fellowship in 1999. Open to graduate planning students, the Fellowship program offers the students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with hazard mitigation as an aspect of planning. The fellowships are intended to:

  • foster the full integration of hazard mitigation principles into the graduate-level curricula of urban, regional, and environmental planning schools;
  • continue to encourage the use and application of planning policies, tools, and techniques in reducing the impact of natural hazards in the United States;
  • determine how FEMA can best assist communities, regional organizations, and states in developing and maintaining effective hazard mitigation planning programs;
  • and explore how FEMA can best integrate planning principles and approaches into its ongoing mitigation initiatives as well as its post-disaster mitigation and recovery efforts.

The MMC Fellowship Selection Committee is chaired by Board member David Godschalk and the members are Timothy Beatley of the University of Virginia, Board member Dennis Mileti, Board member Charles Thornton, and William Wagoner of the Livingston County Department of Planning in Howell, Michigan. Ann-Margaret Esnard of Cornell University joined the selection committee starting with the 2005-2006 process. Timothy Beatley was on sabbatical and did not participate in the 2005-2006 selection.

Each fellowship recipient is provided with funding sufficient to support one year of field research with a FEMA identified community, and independent study with a faculty advisor in the area of local and state hazard mitigation planning. The fellowships also involve orientation work in Washington, D.C., with FEMA and other federal agencies and participation in the annual summer Natural Hazards Workshop in Boulder, Colorado.

Since 2004, the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined DHS/FEMA by providing funding for an additional fellow to study how communities, regional organizations, and states can effectively address watershed planning and floodplain management issues.

Given the demands on FEMA resources as a result of recent disasters, a community planning fellow will not be selected for the 2006-2007 or 2007/2008 academic years. The MMC expects to be able to offer a fellowship on FEMA's behalf in the future.

FEMA Community Fellowship Recipients PDF

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Multihazard Building Design Summer Institute

During the weeks of July 22 and 29, 2002, the MMC oversaw conduct of the 2002 Multihazard Building Design Summer Institute (MBDSI) at FEMA’s National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In late 2000, NIBS entered into a contract with FEMA providing for MMC organization, administration, and conduct of the summer institute in 2001 and five option years. For the 2002 MBDSI, 27 students took the wind protective design course, 19, the flood resistance design course, and 32, a new advanced earthquake design course. MBDSI students generally are professors in undergraduate schools of engineering and leave the summer institute with an instructors manual, student manual, and set of up-to-date reference documents that serve as a resource in designing specific lesson plans and lecture notes for courses they will teach. This "train-the-trainer" philosophy, which has been employed successfully for many years, has proven to be effective in stimulating increased attention to hazard resistant design in undergraduate engineering programs. The 2001 MBDSI course included the wind course, the basic earthquake course, and a newly developed course on dam safety.

During the last two weeks of July, three courses were presented at the 2003 MBDSI . The Dam Safety Design course, first developed for the 2001 MBDSI, was conducted again with the wind and advanced earthquake courses. The flood course did not attract enough students and was not given this year. To eliminate confusion, the advanced earthquake course has been renamed "Topics in Performance Based Earthquake Engineering".

All courses were presented at the FEMA operated Emergency Management Institute (EMI) located in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Future courses have been cancelled until further notice.

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Role of the Code Enforcement Official

The panel organized to pursue this task met in November 1999 and February 2000. Gerald Jones, William Tangye, and Eugene Zeller represent the MMC Board. Also participating were Ellen Gordon, Administrator of the Iowa Department of Public Defense, Emergency Management Division, Douglas Smits and Michael Gustafson representing SBCCI, Ray Sebastian and Steven Shapiro representing BOCA, and John Kelly and David Saunders representing ICBO. The final report on this effort was transmitted to FEMA in April 2000.

In the report, the panel recommended, among other things, that efforts be initiated to develop a general multihazard disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery manual based on a variety of existing documents such as the Florida guide, ATC 20, FEMA 311, the BOCA hazard mitigation manual, and the ICBO disaster manual – all of which appear to have some commonalities. In the report, the MMC Board noted that it "believes the panel recommendations warrant immediate attention by FEMA and the other entities involved. An optimized code official role in the mitigation/preparedness/response/recovery process will benefit communities directly when a disaster occurs and, when conducted in conjunction with building department mitigation efforts, should, over time, lead to a decrease in disaster losses across the nation. The Board recommends that attention first be focused on the development of a general multihazard disaster mitigation and response manual and then on the development of appropriate training. The Board believes such an effort will require approximately three years and that it warrants both financial support from FEMA as well as direct involvement of FEMA personnel in partnership with a variety of private sector interests. Consideration of the remaining Panel recommendations should be integrated into the effort as appropriate; however, FEMA is strongly encouraged to do all it can to advance Recommendations 5 and 6."

In early 2001, FEMA requested a proposal for development guidance for optimizing the role of the code enforcement official in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery and for stimulating use of that guidance across the nation. During this follow-on effort, the MMC will develop a draft of the manual.

After some delay, the committee to conduct this effort has been fully established. Chairing the group is former NIBS Chair Gerald Jones. The members include MMC Board members Ron Coleman, Ann Patton, and Gene Zeller. Contributing the effort are the model code groups who are funding the travel of the following representatives: William Carigee of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (SBCCI), Allan Fraser of NFPA, Tom Frost of BOCA, Michael Gustafson of the City of Pinellas Park, Florida (SBCCI), Jerry Mallory of Johnson County, Kansas (ICBO), Paul Myers of the City of Cincinnati, Ohio (BOCA), Eugene Novak of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (NFPA), David Saunders of Yakima County, Washington (ICBO), Steven Shapiro of the City of Hampton, Virginia (BOCA). Also serving on the committee are representatives of the National Emergency Management Agency – Robert Bezek of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Kristin Cormier Robinson of the NEMA staff – and Ian Friedland of the Applied Technology Council, Frank Koutnik of the State of Florida, and Sarah Yerkes of the International Code Council.

The group met for the first time in January 2002 to review existing guidance, identify gaps, outline the manual, and formulate a preliminary strategy for exposing the draft manual to a broad cross section of the code enforcement and emergency management communities. A full first draft of the manual is being prepared to reflect committee deliberations and input obtained during an educational session held at the International Codes Council's (ICC) Codes Forum in October 2002. The committee met in mid-March 2003 to review a complete draft of the guide. At this meeting, the committee provided direction concerning information to be included, methods of presentation, and supporting material to be included in appendices. A second draft was prepared and reviewed by the committee at a mid-May meeting.

The final draft of the document was submitted to the committee for review in October 2003. Several substantive comments have resulted in the need for a significant revision. Given that the task was expected to be completed earlier, it has been difficult to schedule the time for the needed revision; however, work now is under way and it is anticipated that the completely revised document that will be sent to the committee in early 2005. A representative of the International Code Council also has asked to receive a copy for review by an ICC committee in February 2005.

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Mitigation Curriculum Development

This effort was initially aimed at summarizing the state-of-the-art of mitigation planning curricula and developing a work plan for developing an introductory mitigation course for inclusion in graduate-level planning programs. Meeting with FEMA personnel in late February, it was determined that the first phase of the effort should focus more on determining how those graduate schools with mitigation planning courses developed and integrated them into their curricula and why those schools without such courses do not have them. The goal will be to provide FEMA with recommendations concerning strategies that could be implemented to stimulate the integration of hazard mitigation courses into graduate planning programs across the nation.

Under the chairmanship of Ann-Margaret Esnard of Cornell University, a committee of academic experts has been appointed to oversee this effort. The committee members are: Timothy Beatley of the University of Virginia; Robert Deyle of Florida State University, David Godschalk of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Robert Olshansky of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. During the summer, a list of the nation's accredited planning graduate schools was compiled and a series of questions drafted. In late August, the faculty member responsible for the graduate planning program at 89 universities was contacted via e-mail and asked to respond to a series of questions (either via e-mail or as posted on the MMC website). Essentially, a respondent's response to one question – whether or not the respondent's planning program includes courses or modules that treat natural hazard mitigation – dictates which set of additional questions are posed.

To date, information has been provided by the following universities: Appalachian State University, Columbia University, Cornell University, East Carolina University, Florida State University, California Polytechnic State University, the George Washington University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Iowa State University, Jackson State University, Kansas State University, Ohio State University, Portland State University, State University of New York, Texas A&M University, University of Akron, University of Arizona, University of California, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado, University of Hawaii, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, University of Louisville, University of Maryland, University of Nebraska, University of North Carolina, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Wisconsin. A summary of the information obtained was sent to the committee to determine whether additional information needs to be assembled before summarizing the trends indicated and formulating strategies for stimulating increased attention to hazard mitigation in graduate planning curricula. The group has drawn several preliminary conclusions and a final report on this phase of the effort will be delivered to FEMA in autumn 2002.

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2002 Workshop on Prevention of Progressive Collapse

Approximately 60 structural engineers and other building community specialists attended the July 10-12, 2002 invitation-only National Workshop on Prevention of Progressive Collapse in Rosemont, Illinois. The workshop was organized by the MMC with funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, General Services Administration, and U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center. It featured the presentation of 10 papers on specific design and research topics related to progressive collapse and three working groups that met separately to consider codes and standards, structural systems and analytical tools, and existing buildings. The workshop deliberations resulted in a final report that is expected to serve as the basis for an action plan to integrate progressive collapse prevention into standard design practice and relevant building codes and standards.

The documents below are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. PDF

Papers were presented by the following:

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