‘Father of Rescue Engineering’ Tabbed as Distinguished Member


David J. Hammond, P.E., S.E., Dist.M.ASCE, a structural engineer considered to be the “Father of Rescue Engineering,” has been named to the 2017 class of ASCE Distinguished Members for his leadership in creating the first teams of structural specialists for the Federal Emergency Management System’s Urban Search and Rescue System, for developing FEMA’s multiweek training program for structural specialists, and for serving as the national lead of numerous deployments.

Hammond has played a fundamental role in the development of urban search and rescue (US&R) programs in the United States and abroad. In the early 1990s, he closed his design practice to devote full-time energy to largely volunteer US&R activities. His early efforts helped FEMA establish 26 US&R teams across the country. He led the creation of training for construction equipment and rigging professionals who are members of the US&R System, which includes testing full-size specimens of timber shoring and bracing systems that form the basis for collapse rescue doctrine nationwide.


He has promoted the involvement of structural engineers as frontline responders on US&R teams through both the FEMA US&R System and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers US&R Program. He has led the incorporation of engineering principles into the training doctrine of all collapse rescue professionals. He has also responded as leader of engineering first-responders at major national disasters, such as the response to the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. He has served as a member of California US&R Task Force 3 since its inception in 1992, and for 18 years as a member of the committee that advises the FEMA US&R System on matters involving engineering issues, much of this time as committee chair.

In addition to training hundreds of U.S. structural specialists, Hammond has been a world ambassador in exporting the knowledge of the US&R system to world partners. He is also a significant contributor to the US&R system’s FOG and SOG (Field and Shoring Operations Guides), which have been translated into Spanish and Chinese. In 1995, Engineering News-Record heralded his achievements as Newsmaker of the Year for his role as lead Structures Specialist in the Oklahoma City bombing, and he received FEMA’s Outstanding Public Service Award for that event. He also received the USACE Commanding General’s Medal and Lifetime Public Service Award by the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California.

Hammond is a member of California’s Menlo Park FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3 (CA-TF3). He has served on FEMA’s US&R Advisory Committee, and was the original chair of the Department of Homeland Security / Federal Emergency Management Agency US&R Structures Sub-group. He is the developer and original lead instructor for the FEMA/USACE Structures Specialist (StS) training courses, as well as other FEMA US&R courses.


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