Mobile Safe Rooms Give Workers Shelter From Violent Storms

Tuesday, August 21st 2012, 5:19 pm
By: Craig Day

When you think of an above ground shelter, you probably think of one bolted into the concrete.

A new type of tornado shelter is much different, but just as effective, and it's designed to keep people safe out in the oil field, along pipelines and on other job sites

The Crewsafe Red Dog Mobile Storm Shelter is being shown off to members of the American Association of Drilling Engineers in Tulsa.

Most above ground shelters are marketed toward homeowners. This one is much different.

"These are for things like the oil industry, nuclear power plants," said designer Oscar Scott. "We've got pipelines, compressor stations."

A retired engineer, Scott is also the compliance officer for the National Storm Shelters Association. He came up with the design and niche.

"Companies that are really interested in protecting their employees, who are in remote regions, high risk, for short durations of time," Scott explained.

Industrial companies rent the 30-person shelters.

They can be easily loaded and unloaded in less than half an hour to a regular truck trailer and moved from site to site.

"When they're ready to move that rig, this will move at the same time the rig moves, so their people are always protected," Scott said.

Another way it is unique: the Crewsafe shelter isn't bolted into concrete.

The rolled Roman arch design and open ended columns in the middle are a key to its design.

"What happens is, this becomes like a giant suction cup if you will, and it is pushed down to the ground, both with positive pressure on the outside and negative pressure underneath it," Scott said.

Scott said, basically, the faster the wind blows, the harder the shelter is pushed toward the ground. A seal keeps wind from getting underneath.

Scott said the shelter can handle winds of 350 miles per hour, providing peace of mind for folks out on the job.

"This one will take a 500-pound piece of drill stem in the side, or it will take a 23,000-pound Peterbilt into the side, and the people inside would be able to survive it," Scott said.

The shelters have been out on the market since January.

Right now, several oil companies are using them on rig sites in Kansas and Texas.