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 Joplin Tornado Investigation Recommendations

After issuance of the final report, the National Construction Safety Team Act requires NIST to:

Conduct, or enable or encourage the conducting of, appropriate research recommended by the Team;

Promote (consistent with existing procedures for the establishment of building standards, codes, and practices) the appropriate adoption by the Federal Government, and encourage the appropriate adoption by other agencies and organizations, of the recommendations of the Team with respect to:

  • Technical aspects of evacuation and emergency response procedures;
  • Specific improvements to building standards, codes, and practices; and
  • Other actions needed to help present future building failures.

As part of its technical investigation of the Joplin tornado, NIST has developed 16 recommendations for improving tornado hazard characterization, for improving how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed, and maintained in tornado–prone regions, and for improving the emergency communications that warn of imminent threats from tornadoes. These recommendations are summarized in the table available at the link provided below (from Table E1 in the final report).

The recommendations call for action by specific entities with regard to the development, adoption, and enforcement of standards, codes, and regulations; professional and construction practices, education, and training; and research and development. NIST believes that these recommendations are realistic and appropriate, and are achievable within a reasonable period of time.

NIST strongly urges State and local authorities having jurisdiction to adopt and enforce model building codes and standards. Enforcement is critical to ensuring expected levels of safety. Following good building practices also is critical to achieving better performance of structures during extreme events like tornadoes.