ICC 500 Safe Room Design

ICC 500 safe rooms are the design standard to establish the minimum requirements to protect individuals from the high winds that are produced by tornadoes and hurricanes, particularly in areas that can experience 250 mph wind speeds. 

Beginning in 2000, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) worked to create standards for constructing safe room shelters to provide guidelines and requirements to promote life safety during these unfortunate high wind events.

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What is the ICC-500?

Using the first edition of FEMA P-361 as guidance, ICC 500 was written as a consensus standard to codify the design and construction requirements of storm shelters or tornado rooms. The purpose of this standard is to establish minimum requirements to protect individuals from the high winds that are produced by tornadoes and hurricanes. The standard includes all aspects relative to the design, construction and installation of the storm safe room shelter. In 2009, the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) incorporated ICC 500 to regulate the design and construction of buildings (and safe rooms within buildings) that are designated as storm shelters or tornado safe rooms. All states that have adopted 2015 IBC or more recent require all storm shelters to meet the ICC 500 standard.

Meeting Safe Room Requirements:

Looking at all the regulations for safe room doors and shelters, here are some of the major points of safe room design:

  • Newly constructed K-12 school buildings with occupancy of 50 or more, 911 call stations; fire, rescue, ambulance and police stations as well as emergency operation centers located in the 250 mile per hour wind speed zone and additionally in states that have adopted the IBC 2015 or later, are required to incorporate storm safe room shelters to ICC 500 standards
  • Any buildings that are being constructed in areas that have adopted IBC 2015 or later and decide to include a storm safe room, those tornado safe room are required to construct them in accordance with ICC 500 standards
  • Any building that wishes to add or construct a storm safe room and wants to participate in the FEMA Safe Room Grant Funding Program, you are required to not only built them to ICC 500 requirements, but additionally follow the more stringent guidelines provided with in FEMA P-361 regardless of where you are located

ICC 500 Safe Room Doors

Cookson has recently launched their new StormDefender™ Safe Room Door, that is tested and certified to stringent ICC 500-2014 and FEMA P-361, third edition code standards. For more information about StormDefender and how you can benefit from them, as well FEMA grants available for tornado safe rooms or if you have a specific solution you need to solve, contact us today.