The 2015 International Building Code first adopted the requirement for Storm Shelters and referenced the ICC 500 as the standard for compliance. The most current published edition of the ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters is 2014. The next update to the standard is the ICC 500-2020. The 2020 edition was approved by ANSI as an American National Standard on November 2, 2020, and referenced in the 2021 International Building Code.


Highlights of updates are as follows:


  • Section 108 OWNER’S RESPONSIBILITY has been added.
    • The owner must submit an Owner’s statement of responsibility with the application for a construction permit. It acknowledges their responsibility regarding shelter operation and maintenance.
    • The owner must submit a Preparedness and emergency operations plan to the AHJ prior to the approval of the certificate of occupancy.


  • Section 109 PEER REVIEW.
    • Clarifies that the owner, not the registered design professionals for the project, shall employ an independent registered design professional to conduct a peer review.
    • Requires that the Peer reviewer provides qualifications demonstrating their relevant experience and training.


  • Section 113 EVALUATION, MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS has been added.
    • Owner must conduct an annual visual observation and assessment of the shelter
    • Owner must maintain the shelter in an operational condition and repair all structural and operational damages.
    • Owner must keep a record of evaluations, maintenance, and repairs and make it available to AHJ.


  • Section 502 OCCUPANCY DENSITY IN COMMUNITY STORM SHELTER. Clarifies that the design occupant capacity served by the storm shelter shall be determined based upon the needs of the storm shelter as determined by the owner and the designer and approved by the AHJ.

  • Section 508 SIGNAGE. Clarification to the Signage to require the following signs:
    • Information (what)
      • Design Information Sign to include the design occupant capacity, in addition to the storm type, design wind speed, edition of the ICC 500 and name of the storm shelter manufacturer/builder. Located on or within the storm shelter.


    • Directional(where)
      • Exterior directional signs only where the storm shelter serves the general public.
      • Storm shelter directional signage within a host building and for a multi-building site to direct intended occupants to the storm shelter.


    • Entry (how do I get in)
      • Shelter entry sign indicating Tornado or Hurricane Shelter. Located outside every intended storm shelter entrance.


    • Perimeter (how do I get out)
      • Storm shelter perimeter sign “Notice: Now leaving the Tornado or Hurricane Shelter”. Located inside of every storm shelter entry.


  • Section 602 FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS. Clarifies that the fire protection systems provided within the storm shelter required by code for normal use of the space are not required to remain functional during the design storm event.

  • Section 702 TORNADO SHELTERS. The requirement for the Sanitation facility support system has been removed. Water/wastewater storage not required in a tornado shelter.

  • Added an Appendix A – Storm Shelter Preparedness and Emergency Operation Plan (SSPEOP). This serves as a template for the Owner when preparing their SSPEOP.