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What is a URM?

An Unreinforced Masonry (URM) building is one in which the primary supporting walls are brick, cinderblocks, stone, adobe, or concrete. This means the building is not braced by reinforcing material.

Why is this a problem?

URMS do not have the structural support to properly withstand shaking associated with a severe earthquake. Brick or block walls generally perform very poorly in the side-to-side shaking cause by earthquakes.

Why does this matter in Utah?

Utah has over 200,000 URMS- approximately 20% of our occupied buildings. Over 2.5 million Utahns live within 30 miles of an earthquake fault line.


Below is the U.S. seismic hazard map showing the earthquake peak ground acceleration that has a 2% of increasing in the next 50 years. Red indicates the highest hazard and grey is the lowest.


As you can see Utah is mostly yellow with the majority of our densely populated areas in orange, red, and pink. 

In Utah we pride ourselves on being prepared but on this we are vastly underprepared.


2018 USGS long term Nation Seismic Hazard Map

What can we do about this?

During the legislative sessions, I have presented House Bill 366 and House Bill 100 to fund the Utah Seismic Safety Commission and to fund additional personnel  (more jobs) in the Department of Emergency Managemen to help to ensure we are better prepared. Unfortunately, it did not pass. Now we are currently doing interim studies on how we can get information to our neighbors who live in URMS. That way they can have what they need to protect their lives and their homes when a stronger earthquake happens. I would encourage everyone to contact their legislatures and let them know this critical and lifesaving study needs to be given the attention it deserves. 



Below are a couple of resources that can help you notice if something is wrong in your home and hopefully help you fix it.


FEMA and Utah Release Unreinforced Masonry Risk Reduction Strategy Guide

The five recommendations made by FEMA for our community.

Utah State Historic Preservation Office

Informative video on how to spot unreinforced masonry and the damage that can happen when homes are not retrofitted to withstand an earthquake. 

AIA Utah (American Institute of Architects) Magna Earthquake CE

This video's talks about damages caused by the earthquake and gives advice on how things could have been built better.

Salt Lake City's Fix Your Bricks Program (only available to SLC residents)

This program helps Salt Lake City residents retrofit their homes with a grant.

Monthly Newsletter

Sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on how this study is going and resources to help you and your family stay safe. 


Thank you!

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