That was Then,  
This is Now  
Five Years After the Joplin Tornado,  
Glass has a Big Part to Play in Safety  
by Ellen Rogers  
The windows left of the paw print on  
Neosho High School in Neosho, Mo., are all FEMA  
windows across the front of the school. The project was designed  
by Sapp Architects and is located in town not far from Joplin, Mo.  
38  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | June 2016  
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he National Weather Service volved in the design and reconstruction standard windows and put shutters on  
began keeping organized records of a number of schools in the Joplin them. Now you can make a classroom a  
of U.S. tornadoes in 1950. The area, which now include tornado safe safe room with no visual difference.”  
T
deadliest year for tornadoes since then rooms to accommodate not only the  
was 2011, when they claimed 553 lives. schools, but also the community.  
The single deadliest tornado to date “Being in tornado alley,we sometimes  
Five years post Joplin, things are dif-  
ferent.  
Codes are more stringent, and com-  
was in Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011. become complacent with the number of panies have developed, tested and cer-  
There were 161 fatalities, including storms and warnings we have here,”she tified glazing products for tornado safe  
seven of Joplin’s school students and says.“The Joplin tornado brought it all rooms and other application types.The  
one staff member.  
It could have been even worse.  
back around, what can happen here.” level of awareness has increased, and  
Haldiman says prior to 2011 there the industry is working to advance  
loss of life or injuries would have likely were more like bunkers and were only  
If schools had been in session, the were some area safe rooms, but they these materials even more.  
“The biggest change is that architects  
been far more catastrophic,” says used for that purpose. Today, thanks to no longer have to compromise their vi-  
Pamela J. Haldiman, project manager advances in glazing products, that has sion for safety,” says Bill Sudlow, presi-  
with Sapp Design Associates Architects changed.“Safe rooms are now multi-use dent of tornado glazing products  
in Springfield, Mo. “The aftermath in spaces. We’re designing them so you manufacturer Survivalite. “With the  
the schools that were in the path would don’t even realize they are safe rooms,” ability to build walls of glass that hur-  
have likely resulted in a much higher says Haldiman. These include applica- ricanes and tornadoes can’t breach, ar-  
loss.” Partly because there were no safe tions such as gymnasiums, performing chitects are only limited by their  
rooms in schools. Today, there are 12 arts centers,cafeterias,even classrooms. imaginations.”  
school safe rooms in Joplin.  
Haldiman’s firm has been actively in- assembly for windows. You had to use  
“For a long time there wasn’t any tested  
continued on page 40  
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June 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
39  
Tcohntaintuewd farosmTpahgee 3n9, This is Now  
What’s the Difference?  
When it comes to working with a tornado-glazing system compared to a  
non-rated product, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.  
I think, on the one hand, they are bit simpler because it’s mostly precast  
walls you’re dealing with,” says Sean Stowell, estimator/project manager.  
They’re mainly uniform, punched openings.”  
However, he adds, tornado systems are more labor-intensive. “They have a  
lot of heavy-duty anchors. Manufacturers have started using embed plates  
at the openings. It’s pretty difficult to drill through ¼-inch steel and concrete  
after that.”  
Plus, he says, in many cases “you’re in a lift, because often the windows are  
located high up [to bring] more light in the building.”  
Gerry Sagerman, sales development for Insulgard Security Products, says  
anchorage is another important consideration.  
“It’s important glass doesn’t break, but it’s equally important that the frame  
doesn’t come out of the wall,” Sagerman says. He suggests getting with the  
architect early to design where in the opening the window will go so it meets  
the anchorage requirement.  
While tornado impact products are certainly different than non-rated prod-  
ucts, they are also different compared to hurricane glazing. Testing is similar  
for both tornado and hurricane glazing, but keep in mind that tornado winds  
are higher than those in hurricanes. As a result, testing is more stringent for  
tornado applications. A hurricane test for windborne debris involves firing a  
nine-pound 2-by-4, while in a tornado test, a 15-pound 2-by-4 is fired.  
HoGewrryThSaignegrmsaHn,asavlees Cdehvealonpgmeendt  
for Insulgard Security Products, says  
Sagerman adds that certification is also  
taking these products to another level.  
“Prior to 2014, you could self-label.  
products for tornado safe rooms have Now the requirement for certification think the costs have come down and  
changed in many ways over the past few and labeling by a third-party testing options are open. More products are  
years. For example, architects are look- lab is really stepping this up,” he says. available that have driven the cost  
ing for products that meet mainstream “In the past they’d (a test lab) give you down. Plus, I think there’s more confi-  
requirements,such as energy efficiency, the test report, and then the architect dence in the products.”  
along with tornado requirements. He continues, “I think there’s not  
would determine if the testing per-  
So while it needs to be tornado-re- formed met the requirements for their as much novelty [as in the past] and  
sistant, they also want it to meet the project in that part of the country. the products are more readily avail-  
other performance standards that have Now the product will be labeled by a able. Architects can have the look  
become so important,” says Sagerman. [third party]. That takes [responsibil- they want, while also providing im-  
The changes that have come about with ity] away from the architect and pact resistance.”  
International Code Council (ICC) 500 makes it easier for them to determine  
and Federal Emergency Management whether testing performed meets ucts have changed, Sudlow says “our  
Agency (FEMA) P-361, have made the their project’s requirement.” original solution was to offer what were  
testing for doors and windows more Kurtis Suellentrop, technical sales in essence peep holes to let in some  
Speaking of how his company’s prod-  
stringent.For example,Section 803.1 of engineer with Winco Windows in St. light and let people see out. That’s the  
ICC 500-2014 “specifies that the tests Louis, Mo., adds that more products best the industry could do at the time.”  
for doors, windows, and impact-pro- are available that can enhance aes-  
tective systems shall be performed on thetics, so buildings don’t have to look nado, Sudlow’s company worked  
the maximum and minimum size listed like a traditional storm shelter. closely with Commercial Glass &  
for use. The 2008 edition required that “There are options for architects, so Metal and Sapp Architects on several  
testing be performed only on the max- the result is not something that looks multi-use buildings that could double  
imum size listed for use.” like a concrete bunker,” he says.“I also as emergency shelters.  
In the aftermath of the Joplin tor-  
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USGlass, Metal & Glazing | June 2016  
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Survivalite’s glass supplier, Saf-Glass, uses a patented “adhesive” to bond  
polycarbonate to polycarbonate or to glass. As a result, the company’s systems  
9
have achieved full FEMA impact protection with only16- inches of glazing.  
RaTopdiady, Gsarfoe wrotohms are being con-  
Haldiman says that, as part of the order to meet ICC-500 2014, you must  
disaster recovery, the school district now test the largest and smallest size  
structed at an accelerated pace. Prior made a decision to move forward with you will be providing. It’s basically an-  
to 2011 few of these projects were an initiative to put a safe room at every other level of safety, which we really  
built—and none with glass the way it’s school. Many of these are also commu- pushed for during the ICC500 com-  
nity safe rooms. mittee meetings. We had already con-  
“The sheer devastation of what that ducted smallest-size testing on a  
used today.  
There might have been a couple  
windows in a FEMA shelter.You used to tornado did opened the eyes of everyone,” number of our products, but we will  
see one or two for daylight, but now she says.“Many school districts and com- need to conduct additional testing to  
you’ll see ten of them,” says Sean Stow- munities in our area are now moving for- meet the new ICC500, and it’s the  
ell, estimator/project manager with ward with building safe rooms or right thing to do when you consider  
Joplin, Mo.-based Commercial Glass & hardened spaces as they expand.”  
Metal In. “The demand has increased  
these windows and doors are relied  
upon to protect lives in the event of a  
quite a bit,and now there are even more TaSkageearmwaanyssays one of the biggest tornado.”  
products available, such as doors and  
storefronts.”  
Part of the growth,he says,was because to product testing and certification.  
so many schools in the area received  
FEMA grants toward reconstruction.  
He adds that the addition of certifi-  
lessons he learned from Joplin relates cation requirements is an important  
step.  
“There was a lot of information  
had to test the largest size you would about what needed to be tested, but in  
It seems like every school received be providing (whether it was a win- the end it was left to the window man-  
“With ICC-500 2008, you basically  
money to build a shelter,” he said.“The dow or a door), and you could then ufacturer to interpret that informa-  
number has tripled, at least as far as provide any size smaller than that and  
what’s available to bid.”  
meet the requirements,” he says. “In  
continued on page 44  
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June 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
41  
Tcohntaintuewd farosmTpahgee 3n9, This is Now  
A Closer Look: Joplin’s  
Community Safe Rooms  
A number of community safe rooms opened throughout the  
Joplin School district in 2014. These are built to meet Federal  
Emergency Management Agency standards to withstand  
winds in excess of 250 miles per hour. Most of the safe rooms  
are gymnasiums, providing dual-purpose spaces for students,  
staff, and patrons. They are open to the community during  
tornado watch, tornado warning, and severe weather events  
with winds in excess of 75 miles per hour. Each school house  
shown on the map represents a roughly five-minute walking  
distance to the community shelter.  
1
0
Source: Joplin School District  
14  
5
1
1
3
9
2
3
7
6
11  
8
4
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Cecil Floyd Elementary  
Eastmorland Elementary  
Duenweg Elementary  
Irving Elementary  
Jefferson Elementary  
Joplin High School  
Junge Field  
8
9
10 Royal Heights Elementary  
11 Soaring Heights Elementary  
12 Stapleton Elementary  
13 West Central Elementary  
14 Columbia Elementary  
Kelsey Norman Elementary  
McKinley Elementary  
12  
A New Design Approach  
Sapp Design Associates Architects hensive of large areas of glass, they still storm events, or do you design for how  
had a lot to consider when designing the wanted them [windows].” She says they you use the spaces every day and put  
new Irving Elementary School in Joplin. were a little surprised by this, but things in place to resist the forces of a  
Nothing was as important as the safety thanks to the developments in glazing tornado?”  
of the children. Pamela Haldiman, proj- products, they were able to design the  
She adds that the new model codes  
ect manager with Sapp Design Associ- school with the windows, while still (IBC) released in 2015 require educa-  
ates Architects, says that as part of their strengthening the surrounding struc- tional facilities to provide a safe room  
efforts, they turned to the children who ture. “[The windows] gave us a way to or hardened space in any new facilities  
would attend the school to learn more give them both,” she says.  
or additions, so the continued develop-  
Haldiman points out that natural light ments of tornado resistive windows will  
In the rebuild of Irving, one of the in the classroom is always a mainstay be in high demand.  
Irving Elementary School features  
about what they wanted.  
schools destroyed in the tornado, we in school design, and the windows look  
brought in the kids and let them provide no different than standard windows windows from Survivalite, and its gym-  
input on what the new school would be with the tornado glazing products.  
nasium also serves as a FEMA safe  
like,” says Haldiman. “There was a lot “They (schools, districts, businesses room with access to both the commu-  
of focus by the kids on natural light and etc.) have to weigh the options. Do you nity and the school in the event of in-  
bright spaces. While they were appre- want a bunker that’s used only in clement weather.  
continued on page 44  
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June 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
43  
Tcohntaintuewd farosmTpahgee 3n9, This is Now  
Tornado testing requires both structural pressure testing and debris impact testing. Insulgard Security Products has  
conducted testing of its systems at UL to meet the new ICC500 2014 requirements.  
tion and then go to the test lab and WWhhaitle’sthNe eglxatzi?ng products indus-  
and certification and labeling re- try has made huge strides since the  
quirements, it will all be spelled out, Joplin tornado, there’s still room to  
and the certification agencies will be grow. For example, Haldiman says  
involved to make sure testing is con- she’s not aware of an operable window  
sistent across the board. Now you as of yet.  
In the Codes  
Section 423.3 and 423.4 of  
the 2015 IBC requires ICC 500  
storm shelters to be incorporated  
when any of the following are  
constructed:  
K-12 school buildings with  
occupant load of 50 or more;  
911 call stations  
Fire, rescue, ambulance, and  
police stations.  
The requirement only applies in  
the 250 mph wind speed zone, and  
saying ‘test this.’ Now with the code  
have that quality control.”  
“Plus, just because of the general  
Suellentrop says his company has make-up [of the windows] and to  
learned more about how the products meet the require testing to reist mis-  
in the system must work together.  
sile impact requirements in accor-  
“We had to learn to focus on how dance with FEMA 361 guidance,  
glazing fits in the frame. It’s getting some are limited in size,” she says.  
the two to work together and be in- “When used in classrooms, and other  
stalled properly and work together,” spaces, [these windows] can meet the  
says Suellentrop. “There was a lot of need for natural light and provide a  
trial and error to get that to work and space for everyday use, not just in a  
also be production-friendly and good storm. Manufacturers continuing to  
limited exceptions are provided. s  
Source: Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and  
Hurricanes, Guidance for Community and  
Residential Safe Rooms, FEMA P-361, Third  
Edition / March 2015  
for architects.”  
develop systems that will accommo-  
4
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USGlass, Metal & Glazing | June 2016  
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date everyday use of the facility and their doors to the community  
still provide protection from these in the event of a storm.  
Safe Zone  
In Joplin, Mo., all new  
school safe rooms are  
being designed to accom-  
Holds  
1000-1500  
People  
events is welcome.”  
“I think these shelters are  
Speaking of price, she adds, great and should be in every  
They’ve come down in cost, but are school,” says Stowell. “Any  
still a premium. The benefits, though, program that would help the  
far outweigh the cost.” schools get these shelters and  
Stowell says he also sees future the windows to follow is  
growth and demand. pretty important. Even small  
modate not only the students, faculty, and  
staff of each school, but also the residents  
1
who live within a 5-minute walk and a ⁄  
2-mile  
drive of them. Each will have an average ca-  
I think it will continue to grow, es- schools are in favor of them, pacity of 1,000 to 1,500 people.  
Source: Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes,  
Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms,  
FEMA P-361, Third Edition / March 2015  
pecially when we’re able to do more and I hope to see more.”  
with the windows. We’re now seeing Likewise, Sudlow adds that  
the ability to build storefronts and ex- he sees the price of shelters  
pect to see more buildings designed falling dramatically.  
around those large, complicated store-  
“FEMA shelters built in a  
front systems that are FEMA rated,” he factory will lower prices sig-  
says, adding that as awareness contin- nificantly, providing extra  
ues to increase,so,too,will the options. easy-living spaces before the  
Currently, the biggest market for storm or temporary living  
tornado glazing seems to be in safe after the storm,” he says.  
rooms, most of which are in “This will change the equa-  
schools—those that are also opening tion for tornado protection.”  
E l l e n R o g e r s is the editor  
of USGlass magazine. Follow  
her on Twitter @USGlass and  
like USGlass on Facebook to  
receive updates.  
2
0–23 September 2016  
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June 2016 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
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