When they occur, natural disasters (earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes) command our attention, monopolize news coverage, and even dominate our social conversation. Part of the fascination stems from the fact that such events present a dramatic and ultimate test of human progress in coping with uncontrollable forces of nature. Questions focus on the intensity of the event, and the capability of the people, their buildings, equipment, and society to deal with the disaster. The questions prompt investigations, studies, and reports. Ultimately we learn more about ourselves and the systems we utilize. We see what has withstood the test, what has failed, and hopefully why. This information then provides the basis for changes that can reduce our vulnerability to similar, future events.
Masonry construction is one of the oldest building systems that man has utilized. That longevity in and of itself speaks to the adaptability and ruggedness of masonry in resisting the forces of nature. Masonry as a construction system has benefited from the lessons of many earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires. The masonry system has been proved, but it continues to be improved as inquisitive people investigate how it performs under the most demanding situations natures has to offer.
Concerns heighten the need for safe buildings. People intuitively understand the sense in building with masonry and other non-combustible materials. Fire-resistant construction preserves the safety of occupants and reduces the concern about property damage.