The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA, www.nssa.cc) was founded in Oklahoma City in 2000 by a group of over 20 storm shelter producers who had successfully tornado debris-tested storm shelters at the Wind Science and Engineering Debris Impact Test Facility at Texas Tech University. The Association was chartered by the founders for the purpose of ensuring that storm shelters produced, installed, or constructed by its members provided a high degree of protection for shelter occupants from tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe windstorms.
During its first year, NSSA established a Standards Committee, which developed a comprehensive storm shelter standard that became the first storm shelter industry standard for the design, construction, and performance of tornado and hurricane shelters. The Standards Committee was entrusted with the authority to verify NSSA Producer Member shelter compliance with the NSSA Standard. An Ethics Committee was also established to ensure ethical business practices of NSSA members. The NSSA Bylaws adopted by the membership provided required ethical standards and the authority for the NSSA board of directors to enforce compliance with the NSSA Standard and the Code of Ethics. Failure of a member to remain in compliance with the NSSA Bylaws, Standard, or Code of Ethics is cause for removal from membership in the Association. This distinguishes NSSA from any other storm shelter manufacturers’ association which might mimic NSSA but does not require its members to qualify their storm shelters by engineering and testing, or enforce compliance of members’ shelter designs and construction with a national consensus storm shelter standard.
In May 2002, NSSA signed an agreement with the International Codes Council ™ (ICC) to jointly develop a national consensus standard (ICC 500) which was published in 2008 and 2014 as the ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters and adopted as the NSSA Standard. NSSA’s charter president, executive director, and other NSSA members have served as committee members of the ICC storm shelter standard committee (IS-STM) since it was established. Other NSSA members have made significant contributions to the development of ICC 500. The “NSSA Producer Member Compliance Verification Process” is outlined on page 87 of ICC 500 – 2014 Standard and Commentary.
NSSA members have decades of experience as forensic investigators for post-tornado damage assessments after major tornadoes and hurricanes in the U. S. Reports prepared by these investigators have significantly influenced state and national perspectives, policies, laws, and standards for building storm-resistant buildings and storm shelters. NSSA Professional Members serve in high-profile storm safety positions such as Project Team and Review Committee members for FEMA publications P-361 and P-320, as a director of the National Windstorm Reduction Program in the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as a director of the National Wind Institute Debris Impact Test Facility, as a Leadership Partner of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and as technical advisors, presenters, and board members of the American and International Association for Wind Engineering.
NSSA is a Qualified Provider for the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Program. NSSA conducts accredited severe weather sheltering seminars on the ICC “Campus Online” for school administrators and facilities managers, building officials, business and home owners, homebuilders, architects and engineers. NSSA members regularly present technical papers on structural effects of severe windstorms and storm shelter safety at national events such as the Dallas Homebuilders Show, National Tornado Summit, National Severe Weather & Preparedness Conference, Texas Emergency Managers Conference, Federal Alliance of Safe Homes, state structural engineers’ conferences in multiple states, AIA and ASCE Conferences, and the annual NSSA Design Best Practices Workshop. Numerous technical papers related to storm shelter safety have been published by NSSA members. NSSA continues to be the premier champion of residential and community tornado and hurricane shelter safety.