Assessing Disaster Impacts with the Building Science Disaster Support Program

Main Functions

Resource Library

The Building Science Disaster Support (BSDS) Program sends experts to assess the performance of buildings, structures and Community Lifelines after disasters like extreme wind, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and more.

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The Building Science Disaster Support Program has been around for over 30 years. However, it hasn’t always gone by that title – in the past it’s been referred to as the Building Performance Assessment Team Program and the Mitigation Assessment Team Program.

Main Functions

Disaster Readiness (Steady State)

During disaster readiness, the program gathers information about natural hazard events and locations to determine if disaster support is needed.

Disaster Support Operations

Depending on the analysis of the events, the BSDS program can provide Disaster Support Operations by assembling and deploying Mitigation Assessment Teams (MAT) to evaluate the performance of buildings, other structures, and associated community lifelines.

Working closely with federal and state, local, tribal and territorial officials, academia and private sector partners, the MAT develop conclusions and recommendations to improve building, utility and community resilience on the local and state levels.

Technical Assistance

The Building Science Disaster Support Program can also provide Technical Assistance and subject matter expert support for the disaster.

You Have Questions

“How do we build back better?”

“What can we do differently to prevent future damage?"

BSDS Has Answers

Learning from the disaster damage, the BSDS program provides expert support and technical assistance throughout the recovery process.

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Resource Library: Search for Reports and Advisories

This collection contains all available resources produced as a result of the Building Science Disaster Support Program’s recommendations.

These reports, fact sheets and advisories are based on their observation of the impact of natural hazards on the built environment and otherwise.

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Mitigation Assessment Team Report: Marshall Fire Building Performance, Observations, Recommendations, and Technical Guidance (FEMA P-2320)

The objective of this MAT report is to provide actionable recommendations to improve residential building performance under wildfire conflagration conditions. It describes the MAT’s observations during the field deployments, draws conclusions based on those observations, and provides recommendations for actions that property owners can take to help increase the resiliency of their homes and neighborhoods to future wildfires. It also provides recommendations that local government officials, planners, builders, design professionals, and homeowners' associations can implement to reduce the potential impacts of wildfires on communities and improve their resilience.

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Best Practices for Wildfire-Resilient Subdivision Planning (Marshall Fire MAT)

This document provides builders/contractors, planning professionals, HOAs, and local land resource managers with information about wildfire resiliency planning and open-space management policies, best practices, and procedures at subdivision- and neighborhood-scales.

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Mitigation Strategies to Address Multi-Hazard Events (Marshall Fire MAT)

This document is intended to help planners, developers, local land management personnel and private property owners identify how wildfires interact with other natural hazards and mitigate the impact of these multi-hazard events.

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Decreasing Risk of Structure-to-Structure Fire Spread in a Wildfire (Marshall Fire MAT)

The purpose of this document is to provide recommendations to contractors and designers on new building construction that may prevent or slow the spread of a fire from structure-to-structure in densely-spaced neighborhoods.

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Homeowner’s Guide to Reducing Risk of Structure Ignition from Wildfire (Marshall Fire MAT)

This document provides homeowners with steps they can take now to decrease the likelihood their homes will ignite due to direct flame contact, ember intrusion, or hot gases from wildfires at various physical vulnerabilities throughout the exterior envelope of the house. Specifically, it provides information about some measures that homeowners can take to address vulnerabilities at joints, gaps, vents, and attachments such as decks and fences.

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Homeowner’s Guide to Reducing Wildfire Risk Through Defensible Space (Marshall Fire MAT)

This document provides homeowners with steps they can take now to protect their homes from loss or damage from wildfires due to vulnerabilities introduced by surrounding landscaping and other exterior features (e.g., outbuildings, sheds, furniture, and trash bins) within the homeowner’s property. The goal is to increase homeowner awareness of the key mechanisms and characteristics of Wildfire and the Wildland Urban Interface fires that can result in home ignition.

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Wildfire-Resilient Detailing, Joint Systems and Interfaces of Building Components (Marshall Fire MAT)

This document provides information on ways to reduce the vulnerability of residential structures to wildfire ignition due to windborne embers, hot gases, and flames penetrating common detailing joints and building component interfaces that exist throughout the exterior envelope of a building. This document provides information on measures that builders, contractors, and other design professionals can take to “seal” gaps at joints and retrofit building components and interfaces on the exterior surfaces. While the primary focus of this document is to provide guidance on retrofitting existing residential homes, many of the recommendations for increasing wildfire resiliency of common details, joint systems, and building component interfaces would also be applicable to new construction and commercial buildings.

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