It could be another two weeks before all students have returned to classes in the state of México because there are not enough inspectors to check the structural safety of schools in the aftermath of the September 19 earthquake.
The president of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC), Mario Vallejo Valdés, said that there are only 200 specialists currently working to inspect more than 13,000 school buildings across the state.
One cause of the shortage is that not all of the state’s expert inspectors are participating voluntarily in the revision program because they have been contracted by companies in the private sector to check their buildings.
Most of the inspectors who are currently carrying out the task at the state’s schools are civil engineers and architects who conduct the inspections in accordance with standards set by the National Disaster Prevention Center (Cenapred).
If a school is deemed to be structurally sound, they fill out the relevant Cenapred documentation that allows it to reopen.
The main task of an inspector is to revise cracks and determine whether they present a risk to the structural integrity of a building. Photographic evidence is collated in a file and any damage that is detected is classified as either severe, regular or minor.
In the case of severe damage the only option for the building is complete demolition while in cases of more minor damage, appropriate repairs are ordered to allow reopening.
The state’s professional organizations for engineers and architects as well as the CMIC are providing personnel free of charge but the scale of the task means that more people are needed.
Vallejo said that professionally qualified engineers and architects could offer their knowledge and expertise to the efforts even if they hadn’t been certified as expert inspectors and if they had any doubts about damage, structural specialists must be called to make the final ruling.
Vallejo said that as little as half an hour is required to fully inspect a small, two-classroom school but it can take up to an entire day at larger educational facilities.
Source: Milenio (sp)