June 2011: For The Record


For The Record

Aesthetics, sustainability and a long life cycle. One would think these attributes alone would convince even the most stubborn gallery of naysayers that masonry is the way to go when you construct a building. Still, members of the MCAA found themselves in front of Congressmen during the Legislative Conference in May, explaining the importance of the MilCon bill and the benefits of using masonry in military structures.

But you also can add this incredibly important reason for building with masonry to your arsenal: safety.

On my drive home today, I was listening to NPR’s coverage of the latest tornado damage in Missouri. Being from the South and having witnessed tornado damage my entire life, I always pay special attention when tornadoes rear their heads. My grandparents’ home in Camilla, Ga., was affected by a tornado when I was a small child. And, of course, Alabama, Georgia and other parts of the Southeast recently were flattened and destroyed by a historically large tornado. University of Alabama students who had planned to accept their diplomas during a ceremony in June were asked to wait until August, so that the city and campus could begin some type of order and cleanup.

The argument for the safety benefits of building with masonry was one of the points of this afternoon’s All Things Considered on NRP, hosted by Robert Siegel. The question of whether a home, school, hospital and office building could be built to be tornado-proof was posed to John W. van de Lindt, a civil engineering professor at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), who has studied extensively the effects of tornadoes on structures. He even is an advisor to FEMA on the topic.

van de Lindt said that, while no building could be tornado-proof per se, one could be tornado resistant. The damage from a tornado could be mitigated. Referring to the damage in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he said it was apparent that structures bolted to a foundation with metal hardware extending all the way up and connecting to the roof (continuous load path) fared better. But the most powerful tornadoes, with winds up to 200 mph, will rip off almost any wooden home’s roof. Once that happens, “the building is no longer stable and it blows the walls down.”

The best case scenario, he said, for a safe building would be one constructed of reinforced concrete, steel or masonry reinforced block, and a reinforced concrete roof could be held in place in the face of a 200-mph tornado. van de Lindt said that reinforced concrete most likely would not be knocked down, and, generally, strong winds wouldn’t blow reinforced concrete apart. Such is not the case with metal or wood.

The cover of my Sports Illustrated last week featured a University of Alabama student surveying the immense damage wreaked by the storm a few weeks ago. I noticed lots of and lots of wood. Wooden beams popped in half, splintered and shredded – everywhere.

Would the use of more masonry have made a difference? Sure it would have. And, while masonry may not be the appropriate material to use for every single structure out there, it certainly works for many. Many that might still be standing today.

Return to Table of Contents

Related Posts

  • 44
    January 2010 Block The Sustainability of Block The National Concrete Masonry Association reports on how making the case for the sustainability of masonry is getting a little easier. By Robert Thomas A funny thing happened on the way to a sustainable built environment. While the visionaries for a more environmentally…
    Tags: masonry, building, sustainability, concrete
  • 38
    Codes and Standards The Masonry Alliance for Code and Standards is working to develop and submit code changes that will ultimately make buildings and their residents safer. Property protection has taken a back seat in the building codes, and that needs to change. By William Hall The current cycle of…
    Tags: building, masonry, safety
  • 36
    Scaffolding By K.K. Snyder For nearly a quarter of a century, Scaffold Training Institute programs have educated more than 250,000 workers around the world. The institutes programs keep them safer and working smarter, armed with the knowledge of proper scaffold erection and usage. Founder John Palmer, himself a certified safety…
    Tags: safety, masonry
  • 34
    New Weaponry for Fighting Crime By Zach Everett Just the other day, I pulled up on a jobsite to deliver some hi-vis jackets and do a routine safety inspection. As most safety directors do, I suppose, I scanned the site landscape for safety issues as I pulled in. I usually…
    Tags: safety, masonry
  • 32
    December 2015 Will You Accept the Call to Serve? By Melonie Leslie I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a part of the masonry industry. I have participated and contributed at many levels for our local and national associations. But, I had never ventured to Washington, D.C., to try…
    Tags: masonry


PumpMaster | Masonry Grout Pump for Core Filling | Block Fill | Masonry Wall Grouting

The AIRPLACO PumpMaster PG-30 is shown on a jobsite in Nashville, TN with Masonry Contractor WASCO, Inc. ...

Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

John Smith, Jr.

John Smith, Jr. receives the 2015 MCAA C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner (First Year), Masonry Skills Challenge

Synpro Products

Masonry Magazine Video News Interview: Michael Goyne

Hydro Mobile Inc

Interview with Kevin O'Shea of Hydro Mobile, Inc.

Interview with Mark Kemp – Chairman, MCAA

Interview with Masonry Contractors Association of America Chairman, Mark Kemp

Mortar Net Solutions

Interview with Steve Fechino from Mortar Net Solutions

Pullman Ermator

Interview with Lyndon Kelsey of Pullman Ermator

Keene Building Products

Interview with Jim O'Neill of Keene Building Products