image_pdfimage_print – An above-ground tornado shelter, or safe room, was recently constructed at the Great Plains Technology Center Tillman/Kiowa campus for the protection of its staff and students.

The 10-by-56-foot shelter, which has a capacity of 90 to 100 people, is behind the main campus. It was constructed by Thomasville, Ga., firm Survive-A-Storm at a cost of $97,797. That firm has also constructed tornado shelters for Henniges Automotive in Frederick and at Altus and Tinker Air Force bases.

The safe room is constructed of quarter-inch steel plates with quarter-inch tubing that is welded from the top of the door to the foot-thick concrete foundation. It is designed to withstand up to an F-5 tornado. It is anchored on the outside by red head anchor bolts about 14 inches apart. It is ventilated by exhaust fans.

Inside are lights that are activated when electrical power is lost and a power generator kicks in. The generator runs on LP gas piped from a gas line behind the shelter. There is also a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the shelter along with a restroom with a chemical toilet.

There are detachable seating benches inside and designed for adjustment to permit wheelchairs inside.

Jim Smith, instructor of agricultural machinery technology at the tech center, said the decision to add the shelter was made by the institution’s board based on the Frederick area’s having a higher percentage of storms capable of producing tornadoes than the Lawton area. See more…