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Quality. Capability. Professionalism.


Wise Alloys: Above Ground Steel Storm Shelter


To put a FEMA-compliant storm shelter where there was apparently no room to build one.


Engineer a long, narrow, aboveground steel shelter to fit tightly between two existing buildings.


With all of the destructive tornados experienced in the recent past in the North Alabama area, after an operational safety review the owner decided to provide for a community storm shelter at its front, main-entrance gate.  This shelter was to have a rated capacity of 15 persons (to hold both the gatehouse personnel, and the adjacent safety office’s personnel), and must comply with FEMA 361 requirements for a 250mph-wind rated shelter.  The only problem?  There was no practical place to put it within a safe distance of the gate!  With that one key limitation in mind, IDS stepped in to find the only practical place to locate the shelter without demolishing any existing buildings: squeezed between two existing buildings, with only a 10-foot-wide available space to work within.

This design included civil site modifications to accommodate the new construction, a new concrete foundation for safe anchorage of the shelter, and a new, aboveground, welded-steel-plate shelter, with all the code-required accessories, including ADA-compliant egress paths and doors, and an interior bathroom.

To simplify the overall construction plan, the shelter was designed to be completely shop-fabricated and prefinished on the interior, so it could be lowered into place between the two closely-spaced buildings with a crane.  All that remained was to anchor the shelter, and complete sealing the minor interior finish openings around the anchorage access holes.

The cost of the entire project, including the structural and the civil construction, was approximately $80k.