Talking Seismic Certification With Arctic CEO, Brian Murphy


Engineered Seismic Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

Today we have Brian Murphy, the CEO of Arctic Industries sharing insights on the Arctic Atlas™ line of seismic walk-in coolers and freezers. Brian has an extensive Mechanical Engineering background, including a PhD in Engineering.

  1. What is a seismic walk-in cooler or freezer?
    • A seismic walk-in is engineered, manufactured, and installed to eliminate human injury and property damage during a seismic event by preventing the walk-in from tipping over or collapsing. Our Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-ins are engineered from the inner core of the panel to the foundation mounting system to survive seismic events. Each Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-in comes with drawings and calculations stamped by a professional engineer (PE).
  1. Are walk-ins engineered for seismic optional or required?
    • Structures, including walk-ins, are regulated by local building codes. Most local building codes in active seismic areas require walk-ins to be engineered and constructed to meet rigorous seismic building code requirements. Much of California, Washington State, and Oregon require walk-ins to be engineered to meet seismic criteria. Several cities in other states also require seismic criteria to be met. Seismic building codes and seismic education of building inspectors has increased significantly in recent years. This means a lot more walk-ins are now requiring seismic engineering and construction. We always encourage our customers to communicate with their local building inspector to determine whether seismic considerations and stamped drawings are required for their project.
  1. How long has Arctic been manufacturing seismic walk-in coolers and freezers?
    • Arctic has been engineering and manufacturing walk-ins for seismic zones for more than a quarter century. Our deep-rooted Refrigeration Manufacturing history in Los Angeles makes Arctic one of the first walk-in manufacturers to offer engineered seismic solutions. Arctic has provided thousands of seismic-rated walk-ins to our West Coast customers.
  1. What makes a walk-in “Seismic Rated”? What is the difference vs. a standard walk-in cooler or freezer?
    • The Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-ins are engineered to meet the seismic requirements for a specific location. Calculations are performed based on the installation location, while also considering the walk-in size, geometry, and openings. The floor of the building or outdoor location also factored into the calculations. Steel strips and attachment points are foamed-in-place and become an integral part of the walk-in structure. Steel angles and clips are engineered to connect the walk-in attachment points to the building floor and sometimes even the building walls and ceiling. The size, spacing, and brand of fasteners and anchors are chosen to meet the seismic requirements and then specified on the stamped engineering drawings. To ensure a fast and efficient installation, Arctic provides all steel angles and clips as well as all fasteners and anchors with each Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-in.
  1. With the extra engineering, stamped drawings, safety features constructed into the panel, anchors, etc., seismic walk-ins must require a larger investment.
    • There is more of an initial investment, yet not as expensive as most customers would think. The engineering calculations have been built into computer models which makes them much less time-consuming than they used to be. We pass the labor savings on to our customers. The additional features and anchorage systems have been optimized by Arctic over the past quarter century for efficient manufacturing and affordability while meeting all seismic code requirements. At the end of the day, the additional cost is a small price to pay for the security and safety, not to mention meeting regulatory compliance, that an Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-in provides.  Foremost on the minds of the Arctic team is protecting the customer’s investment with high-quality and reliable cold storage.  We have a mantra here at Arctic and encourage all to, “Think Inside The Box” ™.
  1. I have heard that there are additional requirements in California for walk-ins that go into schools and healthcare facilities. Is this indeed a requirement?
    • Yes, indeed it is. In California, we have the Division of State Architecture (DSA) and the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) which was formerly the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Amongst other responsibilities, DSA provides design and construction oversite of K-12 schools, community colleges, and other state facilities. Similarly, with HCAI for hospitals and nursing facilities. Both groups have engineering teams that perform rigorous reviews of building and renovation projects which typically require additional engineering analysis, more detailed drawings, and oftentimes additional seismic reinforcements. As a result, multiple engineering iterations occur which require several additional weeks or even months to be added to the project timeline. Accordingly, the engineering and seismic consideration costs for DSA and HCAI projects are higher than that of a typical seismic project.
  1. Are there situations other than seismic that require additional engineering for walk-ins?
    • The two other common situations where we perform additional engineering are for high snow load and high wind areas. Our engineering team developed a walk-in specifically for use in hurricane zones. This design was tested by an independent third-party laboratory and has received Miami-Dade County approval for use in high wind zones. We have sold hundreds of these wind zone walk-ins in recent years.
  1. Are there any changes coming for seismic walk-ins?
    • The regulatory landscape and geography of focus are constantly changing, and we anticipate seismic walk-in requirements to continue expanding into cities that currently do not have them. (See attached USGS Map). As for the Arctic Atlas™ seismic walk-in, we are constantly evolving with continued R & D and our unwavering commitment to be the walk-in industry “Thought Leader.”

To learn more about the Arctic Atlas™ line of seismic walk-in coolers and freezers, please visit

United States Geological Survey Map

Arctic Atlas™  The Foundation of Safety and Performance