Portland building will warn tenants of earthquake

Building warns tenants of coming quake

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland developer is making sure the tenants in one of his buildings know seconds, maybe even minutes before a quake hits. 

The new Radiator building on North Vancouver, near Fremont, is equipped with its own earthquake early warning system.

When an earthquake strikes, sensors buried in the ground around the building detect the initial rupture and instantly sound an alarm and send out text messages to tenants before the more damaging shock waves arrive.

That could be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of warning. Enough time for tenants to find a safe place to ride out the quake.

"It will alert the occupants, it will lower the elevators to the ground floor and then lock the elevator so people don't get trapped in the elevator and it will also shut of the gas main to the building so it doesn't brake and spew gas and fire everywhere," said designer Brian Campbell.

The Kaiser group, which built the Radiator building, said it is the first early warning system of its kind in the Northwest. The group already has plans to include a similar system in another soon-to-be built building.

The group hopes other builders will follow suit.

The price tag for the shake-alarm system? About $65,000.

The developer says it is a small price to pay considering the lives it could save. 

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