Safer Buildings, Stronger Communities: A Road Map to Action for Earthquake Country

A Webinar Presenting the Wasatch Front Unreinforced Masonry Risk Reduction Strategy

Unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) are notoriously dangerous in an earthquake. Unfortunately, there are a lot of URMs out there.

Watch the Webinar

This 90-minute webinar took place on July 21, 2021 and featured the new Wasatch Front Unreinforced Masonry Risk Reduction Strategy. The strategy can help communities build local support, identify URMs, design retrofits, and develop and implement a successful URM risk-reduction program.

And communities along the Wasatch Front aren’t the only ones who benefit from the strategy: Any community with seismically dangerous buildings can adapt and use it.

Webinar Recording

Featured Speakers

Moderator: Audrey Pierce is the Critical Infrastructure Liaison at Salt Lake City Emergency Management and Program Manager of the Fix the Bricks Program, through which owners of URM homes in Salt Lake City can secure funding for seismic retrofits. Over her 17 years in Emergency Management, Audrey has been instrumental in the development of special projects that build partnerships between the public and private sector or increase local capabilities to respond and recover from all hazards. These initiatives include the Building Occupancy Resumption Program (BORP), Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP), Local Energy Assurance Planning (LEAP), and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

Divya Chandrasekhar is an Associate Professor in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah. She researches post-disaster community participation and capacity building, networking and coordination among recovery institutions, and disaster recovery policy in South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the U.S. She serves on Utah’s Seismic Safety Commission and the state Hazard Mitigation Team, and is an affiliate of the Global Change and Sustainability Center at the University of Utah. She was on the advisory team for the URM Risk Reduction Strategy. She has a Master’s and Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Bachelor’s degree in physical planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.


Jessica Chappell is a licensed structural engineer in Utah and Alaska and has worked in structural consulting for over 17 years. She is a principal with Reaveley Engineers and serves as the SEAU Delegate and Vice-Chair of the Utah Seismic Safety Commission. Jessica has participated in organizing the EERI Utah Chapter Resilience Workshops, and has represented Reaveley in a partnership with the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning for their Community Resilience programs. She was on the Project Development Committee for the Wasatch Front URM Risk Reduction Strategy.


John Crofts is the Earthquake Program Manager for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. He has over 18 years experience with the division and has worked on the response to multiple Utah disasters, as well as disasters in Florida, Mississippi, and Colorado. He is a staff member of the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, manages the Utah Safety Assessment Program that provides rapid visual evaluations following damaging earthquakes, is the treasurer of Utah’s EERI Chapter, and was on the Project Development Committee for the Wasatch Front URM Risk Reduction Strategy. He is deeply committed to building partnerships and consensus in support of this strategy and believes our collective actions and commitment to addressing URMs will make communities safer, stronger, more resilient, and provide long-term quality of life for all.


Sean McGowan is the Earthquake Program Manager for FEMA Region 8, which includes Utah. He collaborates with state and local partners to advance earthquake mitigation efforts and provides information and guidance to FEMA to support earthquake-response efforts, such as during Utah’s Magna Earthquake in 2020. He is an ex-officio member of Utah’s Seismic Safety Commission and led the Project Development Committee for the Wasatch Front URM Risk Reduction Strategy. He was previously a civil engineer for USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Modeling and Engineering Risk Assessment Projects. Sean has a Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering from Princeton University and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a Professional Engineer licensed in Colorado.


Learn More

This webinar was hosted & sponsored by CREW with funding from the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.

Event Contact

Kyra Nourse (