‘Safe rooms’ in new dorms will protect against severe weather

» By BRITTANY WESTER – bwester2@my.apsu.edu

APSU recently received a grant of $1.78 million to build safe rooms in the new residence halls under construction on Drane Street.

“With the history of storms in this area and the tornado of 1999, any and all types of storm sheltering are beneficial to our students,” said Al Westerman, director of Facilities Planning and Projects. “We feel these shelters and similar applications are important for protecting our greatest assets, the students, faculty and staff of APSU.”

The safe rooms will be built below grade of the new resident halls, similar to a basement. According to FEMA, this provides the best protection against missiles and falling debris because they are shielded underground away from direct forces of wind and debris.

“There will be built one room per building with the total occupancy of all three rooms being 1,400 people,” Westerman said.

According to FEMA’s website, the cost of installing a safe room 14 feet by 14 feet in size costs between $12,000 and $14,300 per room. The expense of constructing these safe rooms can vary with size, location and the number of safe rooms to be built.

“[This] award is the largest single grant ever received by APSU,” Westerman said. “This has been the first opportunity that APSU has had to apply for this type of grant. The university intends to continue applying for such grants for all our major building projects as long as the schedule will allow for the additional nine to 12 months required to apply and receive such awards.”

The safe rooms are scheduled to be ready for use when the new residence halls open in 2014.
“Funds for the safe rooms were obtained through a grant by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA),which contributed 12.5 percent, and the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA), contributing 75 percent,” Westerman said. “APSU provided the final 12.5 percent to build the safe rooms.” TAS

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