BRB construction myths: What you don’t know can cost you

A lot of myths still surround the use of blast-resistant buildings (BRBs) as traditional building replacements. If you’re planning construction at your facility, this article could help you save hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention countless lives.

Myth No. 1: Modular BRBs are only available for lease

When we pioneered the BRB industry, we offered only lease units, but we quickly learned every application is different. A cookie cutter approach has never worked for BRB design, so the evolution of our SAFETYsuite units (concept-design-build units for sale) started early because most facilities need a custom-engineered concept to fill a specific need.

Fact: SAFETYSuites are permanent BRBs that can be purchased to meet specific operational needs for years to come.

Myth No. 2: BRBs are only for rush construction jobs

Yes, a SAFETYsuite can be erected in a fraction of the time it takes for a traditional building, with fewer operational interruptions and permitting headaches, but they are always a superior, permanent construction solution. They cost half as much as traditional buildings and do a better job of protecting personnel and resources in a blast event.

Fact: BRBs are superior to traditional buildings for all construction projects.

Myth No. 3: BRBs lack the comforts, amenities of traditional buildings

This myth is probably a holdover from the early days when all of our engineering resources were devoted to creating the safest building in the world. We’re still focused on safety first, but interior amenities in today’s SAFETYsuites range from comfortable to luxurious.

Fact: The inside of a SAFETYsuite is often indistinguishable from that of a traditional building, offering all the same accoutrements, amenities and interior design options.

Myth No. 4: A blast pressure rating is the only important factor

Yes, blast pressure is a key part of the BRB design formula, but duration and response level ratings tell the real story of how a BRB will hold up to a blast. A blast pressure rating is meaningless if the BRB doesn’t sustain that rating throughout the blast event. Response level ratings are, by far, the most telling information about a BRB’s ability to save lives. Some manufacturers claim a 5 or 8 psi rating, but with a high response level. This is virtually meaningless as “high response” equates to high damage with a high risk of casualties.

One thing to look for in a good BRB is close and sturdy wall stud spacing. Thicker steel walls between widely spaced studs often indicate a high damage building design.

Other factors worth a closer look are nonstructural components, such as cabinetry, light fixtures, electrical/plumbing design and interior furnishings. A tough “steel box” alone does not make a safe BRB; everything in it has to be designed for a blast event.

Fact: Blast pressure ratings, taken alone, can provide a misleading view of safety.

Myth No. 5: BRB design is still experimental

While blast engineering is a comparatively new science, RedGuard has worked with some of the world’s most respected authorities and then performed blast testing to make sure the designs really do provide low-response results during blast events. We continue to improve our units all the time, in terms of both safety and comfort, but the bottom line is the right SAFETYsuite, designed for a specific placement and application, will protect personnel during a blast event — at a fraction of the cost and construction time of a traditional building.

Fact: SAFETYsuites are built on proven engineering concepts that have been fully tested and proven safe.