NIBS Works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to Protect Our Buildings from Threats

St. Clair County in Michigan has been one of the most extensive users of the program. The county is evaluating its inventory of public and critical infrastructure with IRVS to create a plan so it is prepared if there’s a disaster in the community. [Editor’s Note: Read how St. Clair County uses IRVS.]

Another municipality currently using IRVS is Arlington County, Va. The county uses IRVS as part of its master planning and economic development. There are a lot of federal government employees and facilities in the county, and these facilities require a certain level of protection. Arlington County uses IRVS to evaluate protection levels of buildings that house federal employees and integrates emergency response, transit and use of public space to manage the identified risks.

r: Can our readers use IRVS to determine their buildings’ level of resiliency?

Grant: Yes, IRVS was designed to be very straightforward and thorough. It focuses on buildings, how they are put together and operated. Anybody who knows about buildings and operates them can make use of it. It’s a great resource and—even better—it’s freely available to the public from the DHS website at

r: In what other ways can our readers rely on NIBS to help make their buildings more resilient?

Grant: In addition to its work for DHS S&T under the Integrated Resilient Design Program, NIBS works on the safety and security of our nation’s built environment through its Building Seismic Safety Council [BSSC] and its work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] in support of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program.

NIBS also operates the Multihazard Mitigation Council [MMC]. In 2005, MMC conducted an independent study for Congress funded by FEMA titled, “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Saving from Mitigation,” which concluded that every dollar spent on mitigation saves $4 in avoided future losses. Since then, government agencies, private-sector entities and the media have widely cited the report.

The institute also supports FEMA’s HAZUS program by providing independent verification and validation of the HAZUS software. HAZUS provides emergency planners with a forecasting tool to assess emergency-mitigation strategies before a disaster occurs.

The BSSC and MMC bring together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests, as well as regulatory agencies, to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States.

Online Buzz:

View a video overview of the Department of Homeland Security’s Integrated Rapid Visual Screening tool.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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