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Why the Central U.S. Requires Seismic Restraints

New Madrid Fault | New Madrid Seismic Zone | Bedson REPS | Seismic Restraints | Memphis Industrial Fans

Mid-South Earthquake Concerns

California isn’t the only U.S. area prone to earthquakes. In fact, Bedson REPS is based in Memphis, TN on the most active seismic zones east of the Rocky Mountains, the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). In addition to west Tennessee, the NMSZ spans southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and Northeastern Arkansas, with the potential to affect northwestern Mississippi and southwestern Illinois.

Earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 and higher, along with thousands of aftershocks hit this very area in 1811 and 1812. Today, the U.S. Geological Survey predicts a 25-40% chance of a 6.0 or greater earthquake every 50 years, and many researchers believe the New Madrid Seismic Zone is long overdue for that kind of event.

What do earthquakes have to do with industrial ventilation and dust collection?

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), during earthquakes, “manmade structures and their contents” are the #1 cause of human injury and casualty. In particular, the MDNR warns people of the danger of “structures with complex shapes and lots of corners,” such as the large machines used inside manufacturing facilities or within any large building. Proper restraints on piping, HVAC equipment or other large machines, will decrease the likelihood that your facility will experience major damage during seismic activity. Conversely, failure to restrain your equipment can cause more damage to your facility, putting your employees in danger, and potentially cause more downtime for your business while the necessary repairs are made.

How important are seismic restraints?

As you probably know, earthquakes give no warning of their arrival, so it’s important to always be prepared with seismic restraints that protect everyone inside of your building from shifting industrial machinery. In fact, laws and insurance mandate seismic restraints in public service buildings, and Shelby County requires all gas lines to be braced for seismic activity. 2012 amendments to the Memphis and Shelby County Fuel and Gas Codes included seismic design guidelines and “periodic special inspection” during the installation of piping for “flammable, combustible, or highly toxic content” and “HVAC ductwork that will contain hazardous materials in structures assigned to seismic design categories.”

The Table Shaker Test for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Systems

The table shaker test simulates an earthquake to demonstrate how the equipment would likely react (shifting, tipping over, remaining stable, etc.) in a seismic event. Below is a video of this test in action.

Bedson REPS Seismic Restraints

Bedson REPS offers a variety of seismic restraints for your commercial and industrial air ventilation and collection equipment. Roller Supports and Rooftop Supports can stabilize piping, while Curb Supports provide platforms for mounting equipment, and Seismic Roof Curbs accomplish equipment vibration isolation. Concrete Inertia Bases and Iso-Curb Spring-Flex Bases isolate vibration in large pumps, fans, motors and compressors. Vibrations in general suspended equipment, electrical cable trays, and ductwork can be deflected with Single Arm Braces.

HVAC equipment can be restrained with Griple Seismic Cabling, Seismic Rod Bracing Clamps, and Spring-Flex Mountings. Spring Isolation Mountings hold equipment to a ¼” radius, while the Floor Mounted Isolator II holds cooling tower applications and chillers to a 1” - 5” radius.

For assistance with selecting the proper vibration isolation equipment and seismic restraints for a specific industrial environment, please contact our Bedson REPS team. Bedson REPS wants to ensure that all of our customers know exactly how to comply with earthquake codes that are designed to keep them and their property as safe as possible during tumultuous activity on the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Posted by Larry Bennett at 7:00 AM

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