2015 IBC Requires Tornado Shelters in All North Texas Schools
Benchmark Harris, P.E.
The 2015 IBC requires all new schools in North Texas be constructed with tornado shelters designed for 250 mph winds in accordance with ICC 500-2014 “ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters” (with some limited exceptions). This code change was sponsored by FEMA after the Moore, OK tornado deaths but is not funded by the federal government or by the State of Texas. Consequently, it is often desired for these shelters to be multi-purpose spaces that also function as a Gymnasium or a classroom wing, rather than a stand-alone dedicated shelter. This 1 hour presentation will give an overview of the many Structural Engineering requirements of ICC 500. Many of these structural requirements involve close coordination with a Local Emergency Planning Committee, the School District, Architect, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Technology Designer and even the Interior Designer. Furthermore, ICC 500-2014 requires both an independent Structural Engineering review and an independent Architectural Review. All this coordination elevates the significance of the structural engineer’s role during the planning of the shelter and can require a greater effort.