May 2017

Newsletter of the Seattle Chapter
Structural Engineers Association of Washington

In This Issue

  1. IT PASSED! SSB 5185 - Immunity from Liability for Actos of Covered Volunteer Emergency Workers
  2. Seattle Chapter May Dinner Meeting
  3. SEAW Announcements
  4. Save the Date: Upcoming Seattle Chapter Spring Social
  5. From the Board
  6. Seattle Chapter April Dinner Meeting Recap
  7. Southwest Chapter News
  8. Spokane Chapter News
  9. South Central Chapter News
  10. Tower 12 Tour with CTBUH
  11. YMF Corner
  12. SEFW News
  13. Outreach Committee Report
  14. Sustainability Committee Report
  15. Refresher Committee Report
  16. Public Information Committee Report
  17. WABO Liaison Committee Report
  18. Disaster Preparation/Response Committee Report
  19. Acknowledgements and Member Achievements
  20. Employment Opportunities
  21. Seminar: Engineering the Future
  22. Engineer's Notes from Afield
  23. Membership Postings
  24. From the Editor
  25. Facebook Update

Seattle Chapter Leadership

Cary Kopczynski

Vice President

Chun Lau


Theodore E. Smith


Michael Bramhall

Past President

Theodore E. Smith

Directors 2014-2017

Adam Slivers
Hans-Erik Blomgren

Directors 2015-2018

Joyce Lem
Darrell Staaleson

Directors 2016-2019
Douglas Beck
Shalini Prochazka

YMF President

Morgan Wiese

IT PASSED! SSB 5185 - Immunity from Liability for Actos of Covered Volunteer Emergency Workers
By Joyce Lem and Paul Bralier

From left to right, Jon Siu (Building Official - City of Seattle, Past-President of WABO, SEAW Member SE), Paul Brallier (HNTB, Past-Chair SEAW DPRC), Joyce Lem (HDR, Chair SEAW DPRC), Scott Woerman (Landau, Chair - AELC), Tara Jenkins (Executive Director - WABO), Amy Brackenbury (Lobbyist retained by WABO), Senator Lynda Wilson, 17th District, Tanner Hockley (Carney Badley Spellman, P.S., retained by AELC)

Hurray! Governor Jay Inslee signed Substitute Senate Bill 5185 on April 17. The bill modifies RCW 38.52.180, commonly referred to as the Good Samaritan Law. Basically, the Good Sam Law is being amended to extend immunity from liability to professional and trade organizations that provide training and coordination of volunteer emergency workers. This means that SEAW, AIA Washington, ASCE, and WABO - organizations that sponsor classes on ATC 20 post-earthquake and ATC 45 post-windstorm class safety evaluations of buildings - will have the immunity protection that individuals have when they serve as volunteer emergency workers.

Confused? Yes, we were, too. About three years ago, the Disaster Preparation and Response Committee was surprised to learn that State Attorney Robert Ferguson had issued an opinion that the Good Samaritan Law applies to individual volunteer emergency workers, but not to the statewide organizations that train and coordinate the call-up and dispatch of volunteers to perform ATC-20 / ATC-45 building assessments.

To correct this oversight in the Good Sam Law, long-time Disaster Prep/Response Committee member and past-Chair Paul Brallier launched a campaign to pass the legislation that eventually became the this year's SSB 5185. Passing the bill became a joint effort of the four professional organizations noted above and the Architects and Engineers Legislative Council (AELC), the lobbying arm of the American Council of Engineering Companies - Washington (ACEC). Along the way, opposition from the State Emergency Management Division (EMD) proved a stumbling block in the 2016 legislative session that resulted in the bill dying in Committee (see the Footnote at the end of this article). Under WABO, Past-President of WABO and SEAW member Jon Siu spearheaded this year's bill, the same organizations backed it, and discussions with EMD were held to craft mutually acceptable language in the revised RCW. On March 1, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate (49-0) and on April 5, the House voted 97-0 in favor. Finally, the bill was delivered to the Governor's desk. The law will become effective July 23.

What a civics lesson for everyone! I encourage everyone to visit this website to see the many steps it takes to pass a bill. Long before the official opening of the legislative session, one has to work with the lobbyist and his or her staff to figure out what one really wants for legislation, how to say it, find the right legislator(s) to sponsor the bill and the correct Committee in which to introduce it. This year we started with identical bills in both the House and Senate. The Senate acted first; thus ensued readings of the bill in the Committee on State Government, a necessary modification to the bill (hence the term "Substitute Senate Bill"), giving testimony to the Committee, passing it in Committee, getting the Committee-approved bill pulled to the Floor to be voted on. Once the bill passed in the Senate, a similar process was followed in the House of Representatives. Throughout the process, we coordinated as to when it was strategic to ask the SEAW membership to contact their legislators to support the bill.

It was late Friday afternoon when we learned that the signing ceremony with the Governor was the following Monday so that meant rounding up folks over the weekend to high-tail it down to Olympia for the photo opportunity. That means huddled with about a hundred other people in a hallway buzzing with their conversations while waiting for your bill to be called - there were more than 20 bills signed that day - filing in and standing next to the Governor while he reads the short summary of the bill and puts pen to paper.

Many thanks are due to everyone who contacted their legislators, authored the joint-organization support letters, and drove to Olympia to testify in front of the Senate and House Committees. In addition to Paul and Jon's (shout-outs for their support) in-person testimony to the legislative committees and letter writing campaigns, many thanks go out to SEAW members Darrell Staaleson, Ed Huston, Tim Nordstrom, and Dave Swanson, ASCE Seattle Section President Kelli Dean, Bob Galteland of Reid Middleton, WABO members Dave Spencer and Ray Cockerham, AIA member Jim Westcott, and lobbyists Amy Brackenbury (WABO) and Cliff Webster (AELC). Also, many thanks are extended to

Lynda Wilson, State Senator for District 17, for sponsoring the bill.
This was a major win worth celebrating because our efforts for disaster preparedness now have legal protection from liability! We have more steps to complete to achieve a Statewide program for volunteers that is formally accepted by the State EMD. If you're interested in participating in this via the Disaster Prep/Response Committee or have comments or questions, please feel free to contact either Joyce Lem (joyce.lem@hdrinc.com) or Paul Brallier (pbrallier@HNTB.com).

Footnote: The first bill in 2016 attempted to establish a registry of volunteer emergency workers at the level of the State. This would have pushed potential medical and liability coverage costs on to the State, while it is now the responsibility of local jurisdictions.  The EMD and the Governor's office did not want to take on the cost of that coverage. The 2017 bill language provides immunity from liability to professional associations, but left the provisions for volunteer emergency worker registration at the local level. A future legislative goal may be to establish a volunteer emergency worker registration at the State level, similar to what California has. This would make Washington State better prepared to respond to a disaster by having a single registry of volunteers. But that will be a much more difficult piece of legislation to pass because it would have hard dollar costs (however small) for the State. 

Seattle Chapter May Dinner Meeting
By Darrell Staaleson

Washington Alliance for Better Schools
Engaged Students | Empowered Families | Exceptional Teachers

May 23, 2017
Hotel Monaco, 1101 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS) is a collaborative of eleven school districts: Edmonds, Everett, Highline, Kent, Lake Washington, Marysville, Monroe, Mukilteo, Northshore, Seattle and Shoreline. We serve over a quarter of a million students in the Puget Sound region.

Our mission is to leverages resources, talent and intellectual capital to help over a quarter million students graduate career and college ready.

WABS was formed in 1995 to assist its Puget Sound member school districts in their quest to improve academic achievement. In partnership with regional industry and higher education, WABS helps member districts share resources, expertise and technical assistance as they strive to:

  • Increase indicators of academic achievement and career readiness, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Build teachers' skill and capacity to provide powerful learning opportunities for all students.
  • Close the achievement and opportunity gaps associated with historically under-represented populations.
  • Strengthen student and family engagement in education.

Register Now!

From the Board
By Mike Bramhall

Greetings all and welcome to 2017, well sort of. I guess we are already a third of the way through it. It has been about 18 months since my last issuance of From The Board article and I am trying to reflect on what has transpired since my last article. There are the obvious life oriented things (kids growing up, etc.), political things (no need to comment on that one), sports things (go Sounders), and so forth. For these articles, I try to infuse something related to our profession.  Recent From The Board articles have touched on such topics as continuing education, SEAW organization, and resilience. These are great topics and quite relevant to the Equilibrium medium, but I think it is also important to try to reflect on structure's influence or analogies on everyday life.  This can be light hearted like Christmas or fly fishing. Lately, I have been afforded the opportunity to travel a bit more, to a variety of domestic places. While much of this is work related, I try to take time to enjoy the location and reflect on what makes it what it is; what forces shaped it to be the way it is. A prime example is a series of trees I observed on the north side of the island of Oahu, while I was preparing for a short hike. On first glance, when viewed from the southwest, the trees appeared to be like any other trees; well developed canopy, symmetrical, etc. Read more

Southwest Chapter News
By Bill Sandbo

The Southwest chapter has had two programs over the last month, one covering contracts, risk and liability in structural engineering and the other a joint program with the Seattle chapter about the earthquake reconnaissance efforts in Italy.  However, the highlight, I suspect, from those who could attend was a tour of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement project site, complete with walk through the entire tunnel.  The informative, fun and downright amazing tunnel tour left from the south portal near the stadiums and went all the way to the north portal, all underground.  Our tour guide from the tunnel contractor was excellent and the SEAW group had the fortune to be one of the last tour groups and the first since the tunnel boring machine broke through near the Space Needle.  The portion I personally appreciated seeing the most was getting a chance to see the TBM up close and seeing the "raw" tunnel before the roadway concrete was installed.  It was very impressive to view first hand and I think everyone was awed and appreciated the opportunity to tour such an amazing construction site! Read more

YMF Corner
By Morgan Wiese

This past year we have been trying to combine some of our happy hours with other YMF groups in the Seattle area; if you are part of other professional organizations and would like to do a joint event or happy hour please let us know! While it is great to network with each other every month and discuss engineering, or not engineering, this gives us the chance to also meet and talk to the other people we work with on projects. Read more

By Angela Gottula Twining

The Structural Engineers Foundation of Washington has begun its 2017 fund-raising campaign, "Foundation for the Future: Building the Profession Together." To kick off fund-raising, please support SEFW in the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG campaign on May 10. SEFW is featured in the Seattle Times 2017 GivingGuide and the online giving page can be found at online.

GiveBIG is a one-day online giving event to raise funds for nonprofit organizations serving Greater Seattle. Read more

Public Information Committee Report
By Darrell Staaleson

  • Focusing on making improvements to Equilibrium. 
  • Created a Review Checklist in Excel to collect articles submitted, give assignments for making reviews, and track that reviews are complete. 
  • Created a Newsletter Format in Word so that Sections are clear and articles are placed in the correct section. 
  • Basecamp is up and running for project management of the Equilibrium Publication. Great idea and deployment from Andrew our SEAW ED. 
  • Tim Nordstrom will be taking over as Chair as I assume the duties of V.P. of the Seattle Chapter. Good Luck!

Disaster Preparation/Response Committee Report
By Joyce Lem

Next meeting: Tuesday May 16, Noon - 1pm. At the offices of Quantum Consulting Engineers, 1511 Third Ave, Suite 323, Seattle. Please join us. Everyone is welcome!

Meeting Topics:

  • Upcoming ATC-20/SAP class on June 16 in downtown Seattle. Prep/logistics.
  • WAsafe, our Statewide database registry for volunteer emergency workers who can perform safety assessments of buildings. New developments, update on curriculum for SAP class.
  • Governor's Resilient Washington Subcabinet (RWS). Gov. Inslee initiated the RWS in late 2016, with the goal of answering questions about Washington's current level of earthquake resilience. DPRC members are participating in the preparation of the report that the RWS will present to the Governor. Work will continue through June. "Our" section of the report is about the WAsafe program for rapid building assessments. Our goal is to advance the awareness and acceptance of WAsafe by the EMD and the Governor by promoting the program in the RWS report. 
  • Networking with the Emergency Management community and WABO. Awareness, acceptance, and integration of the program by the users are our goals. Upcoming WASEMA conference, WASEMA meetings, meetings with State EMD through our liaison, Maximilian Dixon. 
  • Passage of Senate Bill 5185 - a small celebration. Post-mortem analysis.

Committee Contacts: Joyce Lem (joyce.lem@hdrinc.com), Paul Brallier (pbrallier@HNTB.com)

Seminar: Engineering the Future

39th IABSE Symposium
September 21-23, 2017
Vancouver, BC, Canada


  1. Innovations in Structures
  2. Existing Structures Into the Future
  3. Performance Based Design

View the flyer

Engineer's Notes from Afield
By Derek Ohlgren

On April 21, Seattle's surface dwelling engineers were given a rare glimpse of the city's underbelly through the lens of tunnel construction. A SEAW group descended 80 feet to the base of the launch pit and walked 9,270 feet to the final resting place of Big Bertha. As the first, since the massive tunnel boring machine breached into the disassembly pit, these 30 engineers would be the final and only group to tour a tunnel instead of a dead end hole in the ground. We experienced everything from the grandiose 56 1/2 foot diameter tunnel to the claustrophobic confines of a 4 foot diameter hyperbaric chamber used to prepare divers for cutter head maintenance. If you missed out on the experience and would like to get a glimpse inside the tunnel, check out the project videos on the WSDOT site.

Facebook Update
By Darrell Staaleson

The SEAW Facebook Page has 2,370 'Likes' which is down from 2,373 for last month. That means 2,370 people will see your post immediately.

Among other things available on our Facebook page, was a CALL TO ACTION for members to express their opinion to their Legislators SSB 5185 to the State Legislature and then to the Governor.

The most liked recent post from our Facebook page was this photo of Paul Brallier's testimony. This reached 1303 people.

SEAW Announcements
By Darrell Staaleson

WA Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

The Board is reaching out to licensed professionals for the recruitment of their Executive Director. SEAW believes that the position will be better served by a licensed PE or SE or PLS.

If you are interested, more information can be found online.

Save the Date: Upcoming Seattle Chapter Spring Social
By Chun Lau

The Story of Seattle's Locks and Ship Canal

June 20, 2017
Lake Union Cafe, 3119 Eastlake Ave E.
Seattle, WA 98102

Construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal by King County and the Army Corps of Engineers was the culmination of more than 60 years of efforts to join Lake Washington with Puget Sound. When it was first opened in 1916, vessels of all sizes could traverse the divide between fresh- and saltwater - stimulating the economy and spurring shoreline development on the lakes. Jennifer Ott, co-author with David B. Williams of Waterway: The Story of Seattle's Locks and Ship Canal, will share some of the stories they uncovered in their research about the decades of false starts, the political shenanigans, and far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts of the canal's construction and operation. She'll explore how lowering a lake, raising a bay, and drying up a river created space for industry and recreation and shaped King County's communities over the past century. 

Jennifer Ott, assistant director of HistoryLink, is an environmental historian who has explored how people have shaped and been shaped by landscapes across the Northwest for the Oregon Historical Quarterly, HistoryLink.org, and Seattle magazine.

Register Now!

Seattle Chapter April Dinner Meeting Recap
By Katie Olleman

At the April Dinner meeting Erica Fischer from Degenkolb Engineers and Prof. Paolo Calvi from the University of Washington presented on, "Resilience-Based Reconnaissance: The 2016 Central Italy Earthquake." 

Their presentation focused on how Italy has responded to and built for earthquakes especially in the last decade. Considering Italy's seismic design philosophies is invaluable to determining how best to address our region's challenges in earthquake design. Read more

Spokane Chapter News

Future home of Spokane Chapter News.

South Central Chapter News

Future home of South Central Chapter News.

Tower 12 Tour with CTBUH
By Jerry Lee and Joey Piotrowski

The Young Professionals Committee (YPC) of the CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) Seattle Chapter organized a tour of Tower 12 on March 23, 2017. Tower 12, named after the Seattle Seahawks '12th Man', is a 35-story, 386' tall residential tower at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Virginia Street in downtown Seattle. The tour began with a safety briefing and a short presentation by Cary Kopczynski & Co., the engineer of record. The project broke ground in early 2015 and is planned to open April 2017. Read more

Outreach Committee Report
By Pete Opsahl

To sign up to volunteer for mentoring use the following web link: www.sefw/volunteer

Sustainability Committee Report
By Kyle Steuck

Meetings are:
May 25, noon, IDE, 1200 5th Ave Suite 1208

Current topics include:

  • Life Cycle Assessment for LEED and other projects
  • Environmental product declaration database
  • Products to reduce thermal bridging

Refresher Committee Report
By Cary Kopczynski

  • A debrief is underway to collect feedback and analyze it for purpose of improving 2018 course.
  • Discussions are ongoing with SEAW Board regarding offering 2018 course online to other Western States.
  • Instructors for 2018 will be confirmed by Fall 2017...most are expected to return.
  • Next meeting will be held late Summer or early Fall 2017...date TBD.

WABO Liaison Committee Report
By Charlie Griffes

The SEAW/WABO committee continues to meet once a month with several SE's and WABO representatives present at any given meeting. We continue to work on producing of White Papers on various issues that warrant attention from the WABO or SEAW members. These White Papers can be found on the SEAW website and should be of interest to all. Read more

Acknowledgements and Member Achievements
By Darrell Staaleson

To: Michael Niehl, Member of Board of Directors- Southwest Chapter and Bill Sandbo, Southwest Chapter President
From: SEAW

Outstanding work in organizing the Tour of the Seattle Tunnel and Big Bertha. This was a wonderful experience for our SEAW Members.

To: Tom Corcoran
From: Craig DeVine, Edmonds School District

"I'd like to thank you, too, for helping to arrange this trip for us! It was more work for you than I hoped it would be! :)

You continue to be a great advocate for MTHS as we work to provide a solid high school STEM education for our students. And I know you're advocating for STEM education broadly in our community, too. Thank you for all you do. It's always a pleasure to visit and work with you... I really enjoy it.

Thanks again, Tom!"

Employment Opportunities

Designer, Design Engineer, Project Engineer - SEFT Consulting Group

Opportunities for Mid-Level Design Engineers and Senior Project Manager - Seattle Structural PS Inc.

Project Engineer/Manager - Wiseman + Rohy Structural Engineers

Structural and Design Engineers - Lund Opsahl, LLC

Read more

Membership Postings

In accordance with SEAW bylaws, membership applications are vetted by the Executive Director, granted probationary status by the chapter board, and posted for membership comment. Membership is considered accepted 30 days after posting if current year dues are paid and no member objections have been received. Read more

From the Editor
By Darrell Staaleson

'Equilibrium' is published monthly from September through June and is available online at www.seaw.org. Articles, letters, and announcements are accepted by e-mail to Editor @seaw.org.

Deadline for copy is the fourth Monday of the month prior to the publication month.

Except where noted, opinions expressed in this newsletter reflect those of the author and do not reflect or represent the position of SEAW. Portions of this newsletter may be reproduced provided credit is given.

Upcoming Events

May 16 - Disaster Prep & Response Committee Meeting

May 18 - South Central May Chapter Meeting

May 23 - Seattle Chapter Board Meeting

May 23 - Seattle Chapter Meeting


 Structural Engineers Association of Washington
206-209-5283 | www.seaw.org | info@seaw.org