PRODUCING THE NEXT GENERATION OF
FEMA Donates Safe Room Demo Model to Birmingham City Schools
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Up and coming architects and builders attending Birmingham City Schools now have a real-world guide for building a wind-resistant safe room. A safe room demonstration model was recently donated to the system’s new Academy of Architecture and Design by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA’S mitigation team donates a safe room model to Birmingham City Schools outside Huffman High school.
FEMA mitigation outreach teams used the safe room model throughout Alabama after April’s massive tornadoes to show people how to install special framing, metal connectors and straps to make a structure more resistant to high winds. In late August, when the mitigation teams finished their work in Alabama, they came up with the idea of donating the safe room model to Birmingham City Schools.
Birmingham City Schools was the logical recipient because, in a move to combat unemployment in the state, the system is restructuring its high schools to emphasize occupational skills training and trades. Using a “career academy” model, the system is transforming each of its high schools into an occupational training center for one or more technical fields. Various schools will focus on health science, business and finance, hospitality and tourism, urban education, engineering and – of particular interest to FEMA – architecture and design.
The campus of Birmingham’s Huffman High will be revamped to focus on architecture and design. The new academy will offer specialized classes in drafting, design technology and building construction. Building science teachers at the academy will use the FEMA safe room model to demonstrate mitigated building techniques, thus extending the life of the teaching tool in a whole new way.
James Crawford, center, a FEMA engineer shows a safe room model to Dr. Craig Witherspoon, right, Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools.
“We believe all designers, architects, builders and construction crews should understand and use building methods that make structures stronger and safer,” said Anthony Gardner, the school system’s director of Career and Technical Education. “This is especially important in Alabama, where tornadoes are so common.”
“FEMA’s ultimate goal is to protect lives and property and save money for everyone in the process,” said Joe M. Girot, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. “Studies show that for every dollar we spend on a mitigation project, we save four dollars in repair and rebuilding costs if a disaster later strikes that area. We could avoid so much heartache and expense if mitigated constr...