Florence building can withstand most natural disasters

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A new building in Florence says it can with stand most natural disasters, including hurricane winds up to 140 mph.

Indy Singh is one of the owners of the Pee Dee Nephrology office. It's the first medical building to be awarded the FORTIFIED for Safer Business designation and only the second commercial building in the US.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety is a non-profit group that awards the designation.

"The fortified building program are voluntary building standards that construction professionals and property owners can use to build more disaster resistant structures," said Fred Malik, the IBHS FORTIFIED program manager. "We assist those professionals and property owners in the design of their building, verify construction and then award a designation certificate so they know what they have."

Malik says building to disaster-resistant standards adds about a ten percent increase in costs.

"A little extra cost up front adds many more decades if not centuries to these buildings if we make it this way," said Singh.

Some of those details include concrete exterior walls, steel roofing anchored all the way down to the foundation, and missile-tested glass. Representatives from the IBHS say the windows can with stand a two by four being fired from a cannon at 27 mph.

Malik says the devastation of natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, show the necessity of buildings like the Pee Dee Nephrology office.

"Sandy really does give us a good example of why attention to these types of details are important," Malik said.

Other safety aspects of the office include a double-locking seem on the edge of the roof so high winds won't blow it off. The HVAC unit is also secure with metal bracing to prevent the unit from collapsing to the lower levels if an earthquake hits.

Malik says having a fortified building will help the business operate after a disaster.

"It allows buildings to be preserved under those extreme circumstances so that they can re-open after the event," Malik said.

The building cost about $1.4 million to build according to Singh.

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