AAMA Releases Voluntary Tornado Specification

As tornado season escalates and increased tornado activity has devastated parts of the Midwest and the South during he past few weeks, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has released a voluntary specification for testing and rating building components that will be exposed to tornadoes and similar extreme wind and rain conditions.

AAMA 512-11, Voluntary Specifications for Tornado Hazard Mitigating Fenestration Products, uses existing test methods and other procedures to qualify windows and other glazed fenestration products for tornado hazard mitigation. The newly released document provides a system for rating the ability of windows to withstand impact, pressure cycling and water penetration, which are generally associated with tornado conditions.

AAMA 512 is a voluntary specification that was developed by the AAMA Tornado Hazard Mitigation Task Group and is recommended for buildings heavily affected by tornadoes.

“The National Climatic Data Center estimates that a series of tornadoes in the Southeast and Ohio Valley in February 2008 caused $1 billion in damages,” says Gantt Miller (Winco Manufacturing) who chaired the Task Group that created the Specification. “In creating this specification, the intent is that injury, loss of life and damages resulting from tornadoes and severe weather can be prevented or greatly lessened.”

The specification outlines that different levels of protection apply to different buildings such as, but not limited to, hospital emergency rooms, community shelters, and police/fire headquarters. These levels of protection are specified based on requirements of the authority having jurisdiction, and each level corresponds to different testing requirements. The level of testing required for each of these types of facilities also depends on the FEMA performance zone where the building is located, as the weather conditions and likelihood of a tornado varies depending on the part of the country.

The Testing and Performance Requirements section of the specification outlines the necessary test conditions for adhering to AAMA 512. According to the specification, test specimens should be tested for anchorage, missile impact, water testing and cycling (for windows used in hurricane-prone zones only).

AAMA 512-11, Voluntary Specifications for Tornado Hazard Mitigating Fenestration Products is available to AAMA members at a cost of $15 for download, $30 for a paper copy and $35 for a CD. Non-members may purchase the document at a cost of $45 for download, $90 for a paper copy and $96 for a CD. To order AAMA 512-11, visit the AAMA Online Publication Store. AAMA 512-11 is also available to AAMA Category 1 members through the Publication Licensing Program.

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