ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FL - In 1995, Hurricane Erin caused extensive damage to Escambia County. So the City of Pensacola fire stations and police headquarters worked to find solutions to protect their buildings from the future damage of hurricane-force winds. Escambia County's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) also wanted to protect its buildings from hurricane winds so they could provide a safe facility for the primary healthcare providers during and after a major disaster—when it is most crucial that emergency services be maintained.
Three separate projects in Escambia County were funded as a result of Hurricane Erin: 1) The fire stations visited by the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) had installed storm shutters over the glass window openings; 2) The City Police Headquarters had installed accordion shutters over 141 glass window openings and twin aluminum roll-ups over the front entry. Window shutters were installed with bolts every 6 inches; and 3) the Escambia County EMS Administration Building was an elevated building and had installed storm shutters over the glass window openings.
In 1998, none of the fire stations sustained any damage from Hurricane Georges. The City Police Headquarters accordion shutters over the glass window openings and twin aluminum roll-ups over the front entry performed well. Escambia County EMS Administration Building storm shutters were reported to have performed well too, thereby creating a secure shelter facility.
Without these window and door shutter projects, it is possible that wind forces and air-borne debris could have caused damage to these critical facilities. Protective measures such as these will help to avoid damages from future disasters.
A benefit-cost analysis for the projects resulted in expected savings of $293,785 in avoided future damages. (FEMA's HMGP Interim Guidance Manual defines the benefits that accrue from a hazard mitigation measure as the avoided damages.) Costs: City Fire Departments: $69,706; City Police Headquarters: $32,011; County EMS Department: $30,000. Net benefits: City Fire Departments: $38,406; City Police Headquarters: $64,022; County EMS Department: $60,000.