Sunday, April 5, 2020

Puerto Rico Gov’t Property Being Checked for Building Code Compliance

By on January 30, 2020

SAN JUAN — The secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish initials), Manuel Laboy Rivera, said Thursday that the buildings in his department are under evaluation to determine whether they comply with the building codes.

“PRIDCO [Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co.] properties have been built over time, so the building codes under which they have been constructed are different. PRIDCO intends to do an inventory to determine which properties have been built with each code and, this way, evaluate what improvements each building needs to temper the structure to the current codes,” Laboy Rivera said in a statement.

Laboy’ made his remarks as part of testimony in a public hearing of the House Special Commission for the Reconstruction and Total Preparation of Puerto Rico in an Emergency, which is chaired by Rep. Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló.

The secretary explained that in the case of Pridco, it has been tasked with contacting its hundreds of commercial and industrial tenants to determine the magnitude of the damages sustained.

As part of other initiatives, “we emphasize that the DDEC joined the Multisectoral Alliance known as levantatunegociopr.com, where an inventory is made through a survey of businesses affected in the emergency. Through this census, the extent of the damage suffered by our business people can be determined,” Laboy said, adding, “we urge all entrepreneurs to participate in this survey, which will be decisive in the process to allocate adequate aid and rescue the economy of the most affected areas. In addition, we conducted a census to learn about the condition of the companies in the affected sectors.”

PRIDCO developed a plan consisting of five phases, which are summarized below:

1) Phase 1: Preliminary Inspection Information

PRIDCO staff will inspect and collect preliminary information on the state of the properties through: (1) inspection visits by engineers and inspectors of the Property Administration Office (“OAP”) of PRIDCO and (2) calls to industrial tenants by PRIDCO’s Real Estate Office.
Both vacant and occupied and manufacturing properties will be inspected. As for vacant properties, they will be inspected for possibly constituting shelters or warehouses. As for the occupied and manufacturing properties, they will naturally be inspected to assess the existence of damages that may represent a potential danger to employees.
Visits will be made according to the following order of priority:
i. Schools and universities

ii. Health areas

iii. High worker volume area

2) Phase 2: Private Inspections

Inspections – Five engineering firms will be hired to perform inspections using the information collected by the OAP and the reports of the industrial tenants.
Certifications – Engineering firms will submit Structural Integrity Certifications for each of the buildings inspected and catalog those buildings with a code, in accordance with their condition according to ATC-20, or Applied Technology Council Building Safety Evaluation Forms and Placards (apparently safe, green placard; restricted use, (yellow; or unsafe, red placard).
Building Assessments – Engineering firms will produce the respective building evaluation reports with their recommendations.
3) Phase 3: Claims

The corresponding insurance claims will be presented, either through Pridco, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or COR3 (Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience) insurance or through private insurers.
4) Phase 4: Emergency Repairs

The OAP recommends that Pridco carry out the building damage repairs due to the emergency, as specified by the structural engineer in the respective reports.
5) Phase 5: Code Analysis or Vulnerability to present to PRIDCO

Total inventory – 768 properties
Vulnerability Analysis

—Cybernews contributed to this report.

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