KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sprint employees, many who spend hours outside working around dangerous equipment are by necessity a safety-conscious group. Bill Dufner, Sprint's Kansas East district manager for customer service, said with that in mind it made sense to invite FEMA to come and talk about the value and necessity of Safe Rooms.
"We're always involved in disasters," Dufner said. "What we wanted to do was tie in preparation at the workplace with preparation at home."
Bob Franke, a civil engineer with FEMA's regional office in Kansas City, Mo., told the group of about 30 employees that the concept of safe rooms grew out of damage assessments conducted after tornados over many years.
"Frequently, we found small interior rooms intact or reasonably intact," he said.
Franke emphasized the value of safe rooms by showing the group photos taken after a cluster of twisters hit several communities in Oklahoma and Kansas on May 3, 1999. One dramatic photo that got the group's attention showed a 2"x6" that had pierced a refrigerator door after penetrating the exterior wall of a home.
"While there are a lot of tornados that occur every year," Franke said, "the area they effect is quite small."
A properly constructed safe room will provide near-absolute protection from strong winds and debris generated by tornados as strong as an F5 on the Fujita scale, he said.
Afterward, the employees had the change to view models Franke had brought that depicted four options for building safe rooms - wood frame with steel siding, wood frame with plywood and concrete block infill, reinforced masonry and insulating concrete form. Each example showed the safe room installed as a bathroom but that wasn't the only option, he said. Other uses include a storage room or closet.
Many of the employees also took advantage to discuss safe rooms ideas with Franke and left with copies of "Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House." FEMA 320, as the publication is also known, was co-written by FEMA at the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Franke will make his presentation to another group of Sprint employees at a company safety fair in Junction City, KS on October 17-18.
Visit FEMA's Safe Rooms website for more information on safe rooms and how to order copies of FEMA 320.