Tornado Proof Shelter Tested at RIT
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A Rochester man in the business of saving lives is taking his idea of tornado-proof shelters all the way from Henrietta to Oklahoma. The once privately-funded company is going public and its CEO hopes his patent pending idea becomes a staple in garages and backyards all over the country.
"Every state in the United States is being hit by tornadoes,” Andrew Zagorski of Rochester said.
Zagorski is a businessman.
"We didn't solve any global warming problems; we came up with a solution a safe place where families can go when nature strikes,” Zagorski said.
Zagorski invented the “OZ Saferoom." It’s a 20-ton concrete bunker built to withstand tornadoes.
"That are with no seams. We pour the footers, the floors, the walls and the roof in one pour." Zagorski said. “Because they have no joints, there's no weak spots so there's nothing known to man that could take them apart."
Zagorski has three employees that work out of its Henrietta location at RIT’s Technology Park. Seventeen others work out of the manufacturing facility in Del City, Oklahoma.
Zagorski says it was back in May 2003 when he realized his idea was rock solid. Zagorski says an F-5 tornado, with winds up to 320 miles an hour, touched down in Moore, Oklahoma destroying everything in its path except for 42 OZ Saferooms.
“The houses that were hit with our Saferooms, they found 32 miles away in pieces, but we saved 200 families lives that day,” Zagorski said.
An OZ Saferoom costs $7,500. Zagorski says the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering customers a $2,000 rebate on each of the units.
"I was getting 20,000 calls a week for the Saferooms. We were doing two a week, and then when FEMA told me they wanted 50 million of them, I knew I had to do this big,” Zagorski said.
Zagorski says before FEMA would okay the structures, it had to be tested. OZ Saferooms were tested by students and staff at RIT.
"We went over and got the top structural engineer students and we wanted a third party to do our testing. They did a finite analysis on our Saferoom there are only two colleges in the United States capable of doing it, RIT and another one from California,” Zagorski said.
Zagorski says he has more than 170 private investors and that the company is now going public. He believes his Saferoom technology, which has a patent pending, will be used all over the country and possibly the world.
“You have to protect your gift, it’s your life,” Zagorski said.