The Monolithic Dome safe room going up near Birmingham, Alabama. (Andrew South)

Safe room going up in Alabama

A new Monolithic Dome safe room is under construction in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s part of a broader initiative to provide community storm shelters following the devastating Tuscaloosa-Birmingham EF4 tornado in 2011. It is the fourth dome built in the Pratt City area, which was hardest hit by the monster tornado. “In the surrounding area you can still see foundations and driveways on lots where the homes were not rebuilt,” said Andrew South, General Manager of South Industries. “The direct impact area is still stripped of mature vegetation.”

A dozen non-dome shelters dot the region along with a new, reinforced library and fire station. The three recently constructed domes are in city parks. This Monolithic Dome is adjacent to the South Hampton Elementary School. All storm shelters meet FEMA P-361 standards for “near-absolute protection from the deadly winds and wind-borne debris associated with extreme-wind events.” The city goal is to have shelter within a five-minute walk for all residents.

The South Hampton safe room is a 102-foot diameter Monolithic Dome built atop a concrete masonry wall. The whole structure is about 30 feet tall. All four domes are dedicated shelters with restrooms and protected space for people to wait out a storm.

Birmingham contractor, Taylor+Miree, hired South Industries to build the dome portion of the South Hampton facility. "We are pleased to be working with Wes Taylor and his professional and capable team,” said South. “John Hinton, our on-site superintendent, is on track to finish the dome superstructure in February. Despite unusually cold temperatures, snow and ice — which shut down schools, businesses, and city offices for two days — Jon has the project right where it should be”

To learn more about Birmingham’s efforts to keep residents safe, visit Birmingham Resilience.

Aerial view

An aerial view of the safe room. (Andrew South)

School property

A larger view of where the safe room is situated on the school property. (Andrew South)

Dome inside

The inside of the dome during construction, showing marks where rebar hangers will go. (Andrew South)