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Build to Resist Tornadoes: Storm Safe ICF Structures

Fox Blocks ICF wishes to extend condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones from the storms over the past few days. We have all seen the reports and it is just tragic.

More than 300 lives have been lost and many more injured. Property damage was extensive where ever the 148 tornadoes touched down. This year’s storm season is anticipated to be severe, worse than usual, and it has only started.

But this loss of life, injury and property damage does not have to be a normal experience America must just accept. Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) wall technology is a well known cost effective building system which due to its inherent features of the strength of its reinforced concrete core, and weight / high mass, resists the forces of nature much better that typical frame walls when in the path of a tornado.

Research by Texas Tech Wind Science and Engineering Research Center has demonstrated that ICF walls better protect occupants of houses from windblown debris, than frame walls. Being hit by windblown debris is the most common cause of injury during tornadoes.

FEMA has published documentation on how to build storm shelters using ICF walls. Take that a step further and make your next house a whole house storm shelter!

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) has reports documenting the abilities of concrete walls to resist the forces of calamitous storms. So, this loss of life, injury and property damage is something we can protect against. So why not just do it? It requires change and many people are reluctant to change. But we have made similar changes in the past.

Historically, mankind has had to deal with the risk of fire in towns and cities. At first it was just accepted as a risk of urban living. But we learned to control the risk by having fire departments and a system of fire hydrants throughout cities.

America has a similar opportunity to build to resist tornados. Build with Fox Blocks ICF walls. It may cost a little more up front but you will sleep at night knowing you have a solid defense for you and your family. As well you will enjoy the other well known benefits of Fox Blocks ICF walls which include: reduced energy costs, a quiet home, fire resistant construction, and a more durable structure. How could you accept anything less for your family?

Consider the alternatives and build, or re-build, with Fox Blocks ICF walls.


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  • D.C, Mangimelli, II
    May 20, 2011, 8:00 am REPLY


    Thanks for the post. Well said.


  • D.C, Mangimelli, II
    May 25, 2011, 10:24 am REPLY

    While hearing about and seeing further news of more destruction and loss of life due to natural disasters, I would like to challenge you and your technical counterparts along with other industry professionals to somehow further this awareness. It seems that government awareness is here as it relates to building safer, sustainable and more energy efficient structures. They seem to be designing and building utilizing ICF for many of their; federal, state and local municipal buildings due to their goals of USGBC LEED and lifetime maintenance costs…..but how do we further leverage this down to the private sector. I have read many recent ICF forum discussions on Linkedin etc. referencing this subject and there are recent articles relating to building safer homes and commercial buildings. See; http://www.builderonline.com/builder-pulse/more-home-improvements-likely-to-be-natural-disaster-proofing.aspx?cid=NWBD110518002
    So how do we further quantify or at least have a general recommended rule as it relates to the availability of governmental subsidies or a measure of available property insurance savings. This should be a top priority from all of us as ICF manufacturers, the PCA, the ICFA etc. Let’s discuss!

  • sara
    August 19, 2011, 12:43 am REPLY

    Ironic! I was looking for sustainable, energy efficient ways to rebuild my house when I saw the title of this new block. Build to resist tornadoes…..dated May 19th, 2011. Just three short days from this new block, my house was completely destroyed by the EF5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO May 22, 2011. I now have a chance to rebuild! I am looking towards innovative, cost effective solutions for stability, longevity, safety and modern design. Could Fox Blocks ICF’s be for me?

    • Jeff McCandless@sara
      October 12, 2011, 10:04 am REPLY

      I regret to see that I’m just now happening onto your post nearly 2 months after it was posted. I teach residential construction in Baxter Springs and we build with ICF. I completely floors me that so many structures in Joplin are going back up as 2 x 4 stick framed when so many people have the opportunity to rebuild any way they want. ICF construction is superior in so many ways it is really crazy to consider other methods of construction. When you consider first and foremost that they will withstand sustained winds of over 200 mph, then add in the energy efficiency and sound qualities you can’t go wrong. I think that if the Joplin population was educated and more aware of ICF construction, many more homes would be going up this way.
      The cost factor is not nearly what someone might imagine it to be. In most cases, you can figure around 5% more than a 2 x 6 framed house which is very minimal when spending 100k.
      I’m in the process of becoming a dealer with Foxblocks. I would be happy to discuss this with you if your still in the market.

  • Rick Hannah
    March 3, 2012, 3:38 pm REPLY

    I live in a Fox Block ICF home with 6″ concrete center. It is a 2550 Sq. Ft. Ranch Style House with a full ICF basement. This house was finished in Dec. of 2010 by Brett Dowling of Dowling Homes. It is in rural Urbana, IL.

    During 2011 my average KWH was 1259 and my average bill was $135.71. It has a 4 ton GEO thermal HVAC system. The HVAC contractor recommended a 3 ton system but I decided to spend an extra $1,400.00 for the 4 ton system.

    I could not be happier with the builder’s quality, the ICF,or the Geo thermal Water Furnace.

    I am installing 10,000 watts of solar in April of 2012 and should have a power bill consisting of the meter charge, service charge and taxes of under $25.00 per month.

    If you put in too small of Geo your two 5,000 watt backup heater strips will come on to assist in heating your house. This will send your power bill through the roof.

  • Khorae Olivier
    April 18, 2018, 5:59 pm REPLY

    I like how you talked about the creation of good concrete walls to resist the forces of calamitous storms, like tornados. My husband and I might be moving to one of the states that have them and we want to be absolutely sure we can be alright during such a tornado. Thank you for the information about building the home out of concrete to make it a secure shelter from the storm and protect against the loss of life, injury, and property damage.

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