On June 26, KJMCommercial Construction used an airlock system to inflate the fabric rubber lining to create the dome roof that serves as the signature shape of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Safe Shelters, more commonly known as “domes.” The shelter at Del Mar College will be known as the Emergency Training Building.

Schwartz said that the crew has built a two-foot, six-inch by one-foot ring beam around the top of the 12-foot exterior wall and then filled an additional two-feet and six-inchesabove that with a 4,000 PSI concrete ring beam.

“They also installed stress cables to hold the whole thing together when the tremendous force of the inflation process takes place,” he said. “Think of the stress cables as a belt that can be tightened a few notches to prevent the structure from popping abutton, or a wall, as the pressure inside the structure rises.”

“After the ring beam was installed, everything was boarded up,” Schwartz added. “The dome fabric was stretched over the top and into place by hand, the air machine was put in place and an airlock was installed. We’re ready.”

The inflation of the dome takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Crews must wait for winds to dip to less than 10 miles per hour prior to initiating the process because the dome is briefly vulnerable to ripping.

“After the inflation process is completed, building the inside of the facility takes the crew about 45 to 50 days,” said Schwartz. “The crew has to install the interior, including spraying insulation, adding the rebar every nine inches and then caking the skeletonwith shotcrete. It’s like building an upside-down pool.”

In July 2013, the DMC Board of Regents approved an Interlocal Cooperative Agreement with the City of Corpus Christi for the Safe Shelter project. The Board selected KJM Commercial Construction to build the shelter on the College’s West Campus.

FEMA requires that 80 percent of the interior space accommodate sleeping cots, so the facility is fairly open by design and will be turned over to the City’s Emergency Management Center during any declared emergency.

With the total DMC project budgeted for $5 million, construction of the 20,000 square-foot Emergency Training Building is located just east of the College’s Public Safety Complex, which will allow students in police, fire and occupational safety training classes to use the open spacearena. Del Mar also expects to move its central computer equipment to the facility.

FEMA has already provided $1.8 million out of $2.4 million committed to constructing the safe shelter, and the College anticipates receiving an additional $600,000 to $900,000 from FEMA, according to Dr. Lee Sloan, DMC chief financial officer and vice president of operations.

The College anticipates the Emergency Training Building to open in early 2016.