Memo: Safe Rooms for Temporary School Facilities

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MEMORANDUM FOR: Regional Administrators
FEMA Regions I - X

ATTENTION: Recovery Division Directors

FROM: Deborah Ingram
Assistant Administrator
Recovery Directorate

SUBJECT: Safe Rooms for Temporary School Facilities under
RP9523.3, Provision of Temporary Relocation Facilities

This memorandum provides information on the eligibility of safe rooms as part of temporary relocation facilities for schools. FEMA is authorized under Section 403(a)(3)(D) of the Stafford Act, and as outlined in Recovery Policy 9523.3, Provision of Temporary Relocation Facilities, to provide temporary relocation facilities for schools and other essential community services after a major disaster.

Recent tornado incidents have had severe impacts on a number of communities across the country, including damage and destruction to the communities’ school facilities. At the request of applicants, FEMA may provide temporary school facilities while permanent repairs or replacement is completed. Some of the temporary facilities may be comprised of modular units, and may not provide sufficient safe space for students and staff in the event of subsequent tornados. Tornadoes typically occur with limited to no warning, resulting in limited response time. As a result, adequate safe space needs to be located in or in close proximity to the school facilities.

Additionally, the National Commission on Children and Disasters issued a report titled 2010 Report to the President and Congress, in which they recommend that because children have unique needs when an emergency or disaster strikes, the Federal government should prioritize children as a separate population category and incorporate them as a distinct priority in relevant programs. FEMA’s provision of temporary schools through the Public Assistance Program should provide for and address the specific safety needs of children and the schools they attend.

Funding for safe rooms as part of a temporary school facility may be eligible under the Public Assistance Program when the disaster damaged facility contained a safe room or other space that served as a storm shelter, and there are no other cost beneficial alternatives available to address the safety needs of the school.

Funding for safe rooms may be provided as part of the temporary school facility project under Category B, emergency protective measures, and should adhere to the provisions of RP9523.3 Provision of Temporary Relocation Facilities. Applicants may also request installation of the safe room under direct Federal assistance when the State and local government lacks the ability to perform the work itself and direct Federal assistance is authorized in the major disaster declaration. The provision of temporary school facilities and safe rooms, whether through grant or direct Federal assistance, is subject to the established cost share rate for the declared event.

Safe rooms provided as part of a temporary school facility will follow the requirements of ICC/NSSA 500: 2008 Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters, or Design and Construction of Community Safe Rooms (FEMA 361). The safe room capacity should not exceed the pre-disaster capacity of the damaged facility and should be based on the student population and the number of teachers and staff who are expected use the temporary school facility. The safe rooms should be made available no later than the opening day of classes at the temporary facility. Disposition of the safe room when the use of the temporary facility ends must be in accordance with established Federal regulations, policies and procedures (see 44 CFR 13.31 Real Property and DAP9525.12, Disposition of Equipment, Supplies and Salvageable Materials). The timeframe for provision of the temporary safe room space will coincide with the approved timeframe for the provision of the temporary school facility.

To be eligible for a safe room as part of a temporary school facility, an applicant should obtain prior approval via the State from the FCO. Information in the request should include: a description of the safe room or safe space in the damaged facility that was used as a storm shelter, the population of the students and facility that needs access to the safe room; verification that there are no other cost effective reasonable alternatives within proximity that could be used as appropriate safe space for the school population; and an indication that the safe room will be installed and operational when school resumes and students occupy the temporary classroom space.

It is vitally important that as we not only provide assistance to communities in support of their recovery from the devastating impacts of disaster, but that we also provide for their safety during the recovery process, in particular with regard to the restoration and rebuilding of a communities’ schools.

If you have additional questions regarding this guidance, please contact Tod Wells, Acting Director of the Public Assistance Division, at (202) 646-3936.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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