The Washington Safety Assessment Facilities Evaluation (WAsafe) Coalition is a group of professionals whose objective is to help local building officials perform post-disaster building safety assessments. WAsafe trains, maintains a registry of, and mobilizes these professionals, who volunteer as “second responders.” WAsafe was developed in collaboration with the Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD).
Following large-scale disasters (earthquake-, windstorm-, and flood-damage events), there is a need to assess buildings for safe occupancy and continued use. State and local jurisdictions may not have the resources to inspect a large number of buildings in a short period of time, so it is essential to prepare ahead of time to have knowledgeable and trained individuals available on short notice. In Washington State, these individuals are known as WAsafe volunteers or WAsafe Building Safety Evaluators (BSEs).
WAsafe is led by volunteer representatives a group of professional organizations, operating under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department.
YES! Programs similar to WAsafe exist in many States. The WAsafe program is modeled after the well-established programs in California and Missouri, which have successfully deployed volunteers following major earthquakes and tornadoes.
Laws and emergency management agencies vary by State (or Territory). Also, there are policies, professional licensing, and funding issues involved for states requesting assistance from other states which can complicate volunteering out-of-state. Hence, post-disaster building safety evaluator programs must conform with their respective state’s laws and be compatible with their state’s emergency management agency’s processes.
The National Council of Structural Engineers (NCSEA) and the International Code Council (ICC) have developed a national registry called the Disaster Response Alliance. See the Tools & Resources page for links to these programs and registries.
YES! To join the WAsafe Coalition, send a request for information on how to join using the Contact Us page.
Note that organizations need to provide Coordinators who will help with the administrative work needed to manage their organization’s membership. This administrative work entails review and monitoring of their members’ self-enrollment information, including licensure and training, in the WAserv registry. Coordinators are responsible for determining acceptance into WAsafe. A minimum of two coordinators per organization is required.
WAsafe Coordinators also assist with dispatching WAsafe BSEs following a disaster. Coordinators work together to decide who, where, and when individual WAsafe BSEs are dispatched.
Completion of a one-day WAsafe Building Safety Evaluator (BSE) course. Training may count toward your continuing education requirements (Professional Development Hours for classes sponsored by the Structural Engineers Association of Washington, Continuing Education Units for classes sponsored by the American Institute of Architects). For those who are current Cal OES Safety Assessment Program (SAP) Evaluators, or who have recently taken an ATC 20 or a combination ATC 20/45 class, you can qualify for first-time enrollment in WAsafe by taking the “WAsafe Program and Processes” module (online). See the Get Training page for more details.
All certifications (WAsafe registrations) expire approximately five years* from the date you last completed the WAsafe BSE, Cal OES SAP Evaluator, ATC-20, or ATC-45 training, or the WAsafe Refresher Course.
Expiration date is shown on WAsafe Identification badges.
(* Quarterly expiration dates are being used to facilitate management)
Complete the online Refresher Training within 12 months of your registration expiration date. For more information, see the Get Training page. Renewal is good for 5 years.
WAsafe BSEs will be notified of potential deployment by email and/or text. Responding to agency requests for WAsafe BSEs, WAsafe Coordinators will coordinate with BSEs and the agencies to manage who goes where and when.
The WAsafe protocols for deployment comply with state law that establishes immunity from liability for emergency workers. This is sometimes referred to as a “Good Samaritan Law,” under which volunteers are protected from liability for their good faith efforts to assist others. To be covered by Washington’s Good Sam Law, WAsafe volunteers must register as “Temporary Emergency Workers” when they first report to the local jurisdiction and before they start performing building safety evaluations. WAsafe BSEs also need to work under the direction of the local building official so their evaluations carry the authority of the jurisdiction.
State Law broadly provides immunity from liability for any non-medical volunteers who provide assistance at the scene of an emergency or disaster. However, unless the volunteer is working under the authority of a local Authority Having Jurisdiction / Building Official, the volunteer is not working under the auspices of WAsafe.
Initially, the WAsafe Coordinators will use the mass-communications tools in WAserv (text, email) to contact and communicate with WAsafe members, letting them know of potential activation and to determine who’s available. Subsequent communications to coordinate deployment details will be by text, email or phone.
Under most circumstance, WAsafe volunteers will not be asked to serve for more than two weeks (not including travel time).
More extensive lists for your “Go Kit” are available in the WAsafe Operations Manual and on the Volunteer page. This an abbreviated list of essentials:
BSEs work under the supervision and authority of the Authority Having Jurisidiction (AHJ), who is usually the Building Official (BO). Placards are posted under the authority of the AHJ/BO.
The AHJ/BO is responsible for managing WAsafe BSE workloads, assignments, quality of work, etc., similar to jurisdictional employees. However, help from a WAsafe On-Site Leader or quality manager can be requested to assist with these tasks.
You can submit your request at any time, but we strongly suggest you submit as soon as you have determined how many and what types of WAsafe BSE resources you need. See the explanation on the Determining Needed Resources page for guidance on determining what to request.
The request for WAsafe BSEs needs to be submitted through the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to be elevated to the regional and State EOCs. Each jurisdiction can have a different method for doing this. Check with the Logistics section in your local EOC for specific procedures to be used.
How many BSEs are needed will depend on many factors, including:
This will depend on the building stock expected to be evaluated in the jurisdiction.
See the WAsafe BSE Types and Qualifications table for more information.
A WAsafe On-Site Leader can help if you need someone to help organize and assign BSE teams' workload and assignments.
If you want or need someone to review or spot-check the evaluation reports being returned from the field for consistency and egregious errors, a quality manager may be able to help.
There are many variables that will affect actual arrival times, but expect a minimum of a week's delay from the time WAsafe Coordinators receive the request from the State.
Jurisdictions receiving WAsafe BSEs are generally expected to have in place:
WAsafe BSEs are expected to bring their own safety equipment, such as hard hat, safety goggles, safety vest, gloves, steel-toed boots, etc.