Tulsa Embraces FEMA's New Safe Room Technology

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Release date: 
May 11, 1999
Release Number: 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma and its Project Impact partners are very actively helping FEMA showcase the new FEMA Tornado Safe Room technology. FEMA worked with the College of Engineering at Texas Tech University to design in-residence Safe Rooms that can withstand tornadoes and other extreme wind hazards. The Safe Room is a new element of FEMA's National campaign, called Project Impact, to make America more disaster resistant.

The Tulsa Safe Room activities are highlighted by a FEMA initiated construction and demonstration pilot project the city is conducting with the Home Builders' Association of Greater Tulsa, one of its Project Impact Partners. In order to speed the acceptance and application of the new safe room technology into the broader marketplace, FEMA is using funding received from the Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing (PATH) to conduct safe room pilot projects in Tulsa and several other communities at-risk from tornado hazards (Sioux City, IA., North Sioux City, SD., and South Sioux City, NB).

This FEMA/PATH initiative will support the cost of constructing the Tornado Safe Rooms in each community (at an estimated cost of $3,000 to $5,000 per unit), plus the documentation of the construction process so that other builders can more easily learn how the technology applies to real-world construction settings. Local builders would complete the actual construction.

The comprehensive Tulsa/ Home Builders Association pilot will provide at least 8 Safe Rooms, their locations will be geographically balanced for maximum exposure in the area, and there will be at least one safe Room constructed with handicapped access. They will be constructed in new and existing homes, and several of the various designs recommended by FEMA/Texas Tech will be used. The Home Builders have agreed to oversee the demonstration program, and to provide roughly a 50% match in services - such as education, labor and materials, plus mentoring for amateur builders who build or renovate non-profit homes. The Tulsa Project Impact Partnership is excited that two of the sites will be featured in the Tulsa Parade of Homes, which will be held June 5-13.

Another Project Impact Partner, State Farm Insurance Company, is underwriting several other activities related to the project, in order to help Tulsans learn about Safe Rooms. These activities include training sessions at the Home Builders' Association on June 3, a daytime session for builders and an evening session for the public. The City is publicizing Safe Rooms and the training sessions with utility bill stuffers. Also, the City will produce an educational video about Safe Room construction.

These shelters, highly recommended by President Clinton last week in Oklahoma, are designed to provide protection from the forces of extreme winds as high as 250 mph. Some are built of reinforced concrete and some are built with wood-and-steel walls securely anchored to concrete slab foundations or floors. Safe Rooms can be built above ground or below, within a home or attached to one. They are designed to protect people from flying debris and other tornado-related hazards. Properly equipped safe rooms can also shelter residents from intruders and other dangers.

FEMA has prepared the booklet, Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House, for homeowners and builders. The booklet includes:

  • A homeowner risk assessment worksheet
  • Guidance for selecting a shelter design
  • Detailed construction plans for builders and contractors
  • Cost estimates.

Copies of this free publication can be obtained by calling FEMA's toll free number, (888) 565-3896.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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