Snow-loaded Structure in North Dakota

Part 2 – Snow and Tents

While most tents and fabric structures are not designed to support snow loads, some specialized fabric structures can support snow loads. These structures usually fall into two groups: snow shedding and snow-loaded. By installing one.

Snow shedding structures utilize a higher pitch than most fabric structures. The higher pitch prevents the snow from building up on the top of the structure. Additionally, these structures usually have bi-laterally tensioned fabric and curved sides. This system pulls fabric tight in all directions. The combination of the steep pitch, curved sides, and the tensioned fabric helps ensure that the majority of the snow will slide off the structure. These design features allow the structure to be used in locations with high snow loads.

Snow-loaded structures typically have a lower pitch than snow shedding structures. While the pitch will allow some of the snow to slide off the structure, the structure is designed to support the remaining snow that does not slide off the structure. Using the structure’s pitch and the allowances from building codes, an engineer can determine the maximum load and equate it to the equivalent ground snow load. Once the ground snow load is determined, this will dictate where the structure can be safely installed. Most snow-loaded structures will have either steel or large aluminum trusses. Some may require additional interior supports to support the loads.


The TentInsider Tip

When considering a fabric structure for semi-permanent and/or permanent usage, it is critical to investigate the snow-load capabilities of the structure. Collapses of fabric structures due to snow may not garner as much news as collapses from wind; however, failure due to snow is an unfortunate occurrence that happens more than it should. Consult with your local building officials and determine the actual snow load of your area. Permits may be required and the local building officials may need to see and review engineering or a structural analysis. If permits are not required, ask for a structural analysis anyway. If you live in an area with a material snow load (greater than 20 psf), then it may be in your benefit to have a third-party engineer review the structure’s engineering if you are unsure. The engineer can review the deductions for slope and note the importance factors used in the structural analysis. This will help ensure that the structure has been designed to meet, not only the snow-load; but also the intended usage (or occupancy) of the structure.

Winter Structure

Part 1 – Snow and Tents

Winter is just around the corner. While some may think that winter is not the ideal time for tents and fabric structures, when used effectively, they can solve a variety of problems. Tents can be used to cover construction sites, provide a warm pre-fabrication area, or add additional warehousing to protect equipment from rain and snow.

In choosing the right structure, it is important to understand how to use tents safely in snow prone areas. In this two part series, I will look at snow loaded and non-snow loaded structures. Most tents (and somewhat to a lesser extent, fabric structures) do not have a designed snow load. While virtually all tents and fabric structures are engineered, most structural analysis focus on wind ratings and not snow load ratings. For this reason, most designs do not take into account snow.

With most of the country having at least a snow load rating of 5 psf or greater, how can typical, non-snow loaded, tents be used in the wintertime safely? Heating the tents is the most practical way to ensure the safe use of a non-snow loaded tent. Heating the tents will prevent the buildup of frozen precipitation on the roof of the tent. This is an easy solution when tents are in use for events or short durations. When the tent is used for the entire winter for an industrial or construction application, heating the tents becomes a bit more complicated.

For longer-term (greater than 1 week) applications, heating the tent is still a viable solution if the end user has a plan. Most tent providers can work with the end user to ensure that the appropriate amount of heat is used. While heat rises, there still should be sufficient heat. For example, it is not practical to assume that a couple of 80k BTU heaters will adequately heat a 10,000 square foot structure. Your tent provider and/or a heating and cooling specialist can perform calculations to help determine the appropriate amount of heat needed based on the geographic location, size of the tent, height of the tent, and the type of tent. After determining the appropriate amount, the end user must have a plan to ensure that the heaters run continuously during events of frozen precipitation.

This may include additional fuel tanks for generators, large propane/natural gas tanks, and other redundancy measures. It is also highly recommended that there be a defined inspection schedule based on the type of heaters used, fuel capacity, and weather forecast.

While a non-snow loaded tent can be used safely during the winter months, the end user may have to weigh the costs of heaters and fuel along with any potential issues that could arise to ensure continuous operation during snow events (power outage, inability to maintain an inspection schedule, value of items/equipment inside, accessibility, etc.). When compared against the amount of time in use – weeks or months, then a snow-loaded structure may be a better and safer option. In the next part, I will discuss snow-loaded structures.

Utility truck at Base Camp

2012 Hurricane Season Part 5: To Retain or Not to Retain

After Hurricane Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast, disaster response equipment like tents, generators, and shower trailers were in limited supply. For example, I had to lease a generator from Chicago, IL to power HVAC units cooling a structure that I installed for a client. Equipment and crews were scarce and there was not enough regional supply to meet the demand. Because of this, larger companies began to make better preparations and took steps to ensure that they would have the materials necessary to meet their disaster response needs.

In order to meet this demand, many disaster response suppliers began to offer retainers for equipment. Basically, the retainer would be a cash payment that would ensure availability (or right of first refusal) of items for a specified period – usually hurricane season. By utilizing a retainer, companies could protect themselves from facing an equipment shortfall similar to what happened after Katrina and Rita.

For 2006 and 2007, retainers were popular. In subsequent years, this practice has diminished (perhaps due to the lack of major hurricanes making landfall in the US since 2005). This poses a natural question: is it a good idea to retain equipment or not?

Overall, I am not a proponent of retaining equipment. In most cases, the equipment needed can be procured and any additional cost or premium for locating and procuring the equipment would be comparable to the retainer fee. One exception to this would be unique and critical items that are hard to find (ADA compliant facilities, large structure sizes, specific size configurations, or special generator types). Retainers may also be considered if there is a critical timeline that has to meet (equipment A has to be in place and operational in X hours after call). Again, the extra cost involved in expediting the equipment may be equal to or less than the actual retainer. Lastly, for some, the retainer serves as a necessary “guarantee” that their needs are met. For those, the price is irrelevant as it provides peace of mind – much like insurance.

To ensure that your company’s needs are met without a retainer, it is recommended that you start working directly with a disaster response supplier immediately. By opening dialogue and establishing partnerships, the need for a retainer becomes less important. Once the supplier understands the need and the urgency, plans and appropriate pricing can be formulated to meet those needs. An open and honest dialogue will help develop a strong relationship between the company and provider. The relationship is critical for both parties. Most large and trusted suppliers already know who they will be working for long before the storm ever arrives. Typically, the first crews and equipment have been allocated to previous long-standing clients or companies with whom the supplier has a standing relationship. An unknown company calling at the last minute will be at a disadvantage in requesting priority equipment and response times. Likewise, companies can better review and evaluate suppliers, therefore making better decisions in deciding who actually has the capabilities to meet their needs.

The TentInsider Tip

If your company decides to utilize a retainer, make sure that preparedness drills or planning documentation is included in the agreement. A supplier should play in active role in your planning and your drills. For example, the supplier can review site locations and prepare equipment layouts and/or participate in preparedness drills. This information can be incorporated into the company’s disaster response plan. By adding this to the retainer, a company will see real value from their investment. This will become important when the retainer is reviewed for the next season because, if there is no hurricane, the first question people will ask is “What did we get for our money?”

Structure installed to help Red Cross provide assistance.

2012 Hurricane Season Part 4: Logistics Company vs. Tent Company

When planning for infrastructure needs after events like a hurricane, organizations are faced with the choice of utilizing a logistics company (or disaster response specialty company) or a traditional tent company. I am often asked which type of company is best at meeting the disaster response needs of an organization. The short answer is both! The longer answer is: it just depends!

Typically, a logistics company will subcontract most equipment and service requirements while tent companies will provide most of their equipment and perform limited subcontracting. This approach generally makes the logistics company more capable in meeting varying and diverse requirements while tent companies may provide better value on staple disaster response equipment rentals. While both types of companies can meet a variety of needs, each respective company has their own advantages.

In order to help decide if a logistics company or a tent company is a better match, an organization needs to breakdown there possible requirements into three categories: Equipment/Service Requirements, Equipment Specifications, and Response locations. The answers to each of these categories will help an organization decide which type of company is a good match.

Equipment/Service Requirements: To better understand what is needed, an organization may want to divide their disaster response requirements into two separate categories: equipment requirements and service requirements. Generally, the more complex, lengthier, and diverse the equipment and service requirements; the better a logistics and/or disaster response company can help. Likewise, if the requirements are heavy on services and short on equipment, then the logistics provides may be a better choice – unless an organization wants to work with multiple vendors. If the equipment list is longer than the services list and the equipment list is straightforward (tents, generators, trailers, climate control, catering), then a tent company may be better suited to meet all of the organization’s requirements.

Equipment Specifications: In reviewing equipment needs, an organization should review the specifications needed as part of their response plan. Is there a particular need for a certain size generator? Will only a certain sized tent/structure fit in the proposed area? Is a certain shower trailer type and configuration preferred over another? Is ADA compliant equipment a requirement? If there are strict specifications and/or equipment types in order to meet the needs of an organization, this makes deciding between logistics and tent companies trickier. A logistics company will have many contacts and should be able to locate specialized equipment – provided it is available and not on rent. However, a tent company may be a more economical alternative if they have the equipment in their normal rental inventory. For unique and hard to find items – that are a “must” have – it may be more cost effective to work directly with a tent company.

A lack of special requirements is neutral in helping decide between the two companies.

Locations: The number of locations that need service will also help determine which type of company is better suited to meet an organization’s needs. An organization with lots of locations throughout the country may look towards a logistical company. It there are only one or a small number of potential locations, then a local or regional tent company may be a better choice.

Conclusion: Organizations should take time to evaluate their needs and consult with both logistics companies and tent companies in order to better evaluate potential equipment and service need. In very general terms, the more complex and diverse the needs, then logistics companies may be the better choice. A needs list that is mostly standard equipment with only basic services and few locations could mean that a tent company is the better and more economical choice.

TentInsider Tip: When working with logistics companies, ask to meet a couple of their key suppliers and perhaps take a tour of the suppliers’ facility. In most cases, a logistics company will have a core group of trusted partners and they should not have an issue taking you (the end user) to meet them. This will serve multiple purposes. First, this will allow you to know that the logistics company has key partners who can meet your equipment and service needs. Secondly, this will allow you to meet some of the key subcontractors who will perform services. Also, this will help the supplier better understand your expectations while on your site.



DFAC in use after Hurricane Katrina

2012 Hurricane Season Part 3: Camp Essentials

It is not July yet and the Gulf Coast had a minor scare late last week with the naming of Debby.  While flooding may continue to cause problems, the storm never reached hurricane strength and the Gulf Coast can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite this, Debby serves as a reminder to everyone in hurricane prone areas to prepare and remain vigilant.

The next part in our series focuses on the core essentials of constructing a base camp utilizing tents and other mobile equipment. While individual components may be used to supplement existing infrastructure, a traditional base camp provides basic essentials and operates as standalone “city”. I will provide a summary of the essential infrastructure components along with some tips.

A base camp can be built to house anywhere from 20 people to 5,000. Despite this, the vast majority of the base camps mobilized after disasters are for 300 – 2,000 people.  While providing for less than 300 is not uncommon, mobilizing a fully operational camp for less than 100 is very rare. When considering a complete camp for less than 100, it may be more practical to consider other alternatives (hotels, RVs, trailers, modular units, etc.).

Sleep Tents / Structures

Sleep tents/structures are an essential component of a standard base camp. For most camps, the type of tent (tension, frame, or clearspan) is not as important as in other applications. In most cases, a tension (pole) tent is a good option as they are common, can be installed quicker, and are economical. The only disadvantage in using a tension tent is the sidewall. In most tension tents, the sidewall is not secured at the bottom. A potential solution to this would be to secure the bottoms of the sidewalls to the flooring used in the tent. Frame and clearspan structures are also great choices. While they typically have higher wind ratings than tension tents, the ratings are not as important because any type of sleep tent should be evacuated when expecting or experiencing wind gusts up of 45 mph or greater.

In determining the amount of square footage needed for a sleep tent, multiply the number of occupants by 50. The resulting number is the minimum amount of square footage required. For example, a camp of 200 would require at least 10,000 square feet of tents. When calculating, always keep in mind the number of females and males. This will help determine the best way to size multiple tents and/or create partitions to separate sexes. This same concept would also apply in separating day and night shifts for workers or responders. Using the occupancy number of 200 with 140 males (minimum 7,000 sf) and 60 females (minimum 3,000 sf) and assuming an equal day and night shift split between sexes, we could use the following tent size configurations: 2 – 60 x 60 male sleep tents and 1 – 40 x 80 female sleep tent with a divider (creating two 40×40 areas). This is just one potential solution.

Sleep tents should have a raised flooring system to help protect the occupants or their belongings. Even if a tent is installed on asphalt of concrete, a raised floor is highly recommended. Typically, rental tents do not provide a seal around the perimeter and water can come inside depending on the site conditions. To overcome this issue, a variety of flooring systems can be used with most being made from wood or plastic. Either option will suffice depending on the site conditions. Plastic flooring is a good option if the surface is asphalt or concrete. For grass or even asphalt or concrete surfaces with drainage issues, a raised wood floor of at least 4” is the best option.

Sleep tents require climate control (HVAC) especially when used in response to a hurricane. Tents require significantly more tonnage than traditional construction. A good rule of thumb for HVAC tonnage in warm conditions is 1 ton per 100 square feet. Therefore, a 60×60 tent would need approximately 36 tons of HVAC. Rental HVAC units typically come in increments of 5-tons with units ranging from 5-tons to 30-tons. For the 60×60 tent, a common configuration would be two 20-ton units. In most cases, noticeably increasing or decreasing tonnage for sleep tents is not recommended. A noticeable reduction in tonnage would take longer to cool down from daytime peak temperatures and may cause those who sleep during the day to become uncomfortable. On the flip side, an increase in tonnage is generally not advisable as the standard tonnage will typically bring nighttime temperatures inside the tent below 70. Those who resourcefully pick spaces closest to the HVAC units typically regret their decision halfway through the night – unless they have lots of blankets!

To complete sleep tents, additional accessories include cots, lights, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, power distribution (charging stations), and fire extinguishers.

Dining Facility (DFAC)

As with sleep tents, the type of tent used for a dining tent (DFAC) usually does not matter. To determine a size, generally allow 12 – 15 square foot per occupant. Additional square footage may be needed for buffets. For large camps (greater than 500), the amount of people that can be served within 30 minutes my limit the size requirements of the DFAC. Flooring becomes less of an issue in the DFAC and may only be required due to site conditions. HVAC, while recommended, is not necessary and could be very well be omitted if not serving lunch in the DFAC.


Restrooms can range from basic port-a-potties to deluxe trailers. Choosing between the two is typically a function of cost and/or availability. If using port-a-potties, a ratio or 1 unit per 10 occupants is recommended. Daily servicing is also highly recommended. With restroom trailers, pay close attention to water requirements and waste tank capacities if water and sewer is not available. For camps, large capacity external tanks are usually needed in order to keep services down to only once or twice a day.


Mobile shower units are specially configured trailers or containers. While sizes and configurations vary, the most common range between 8 – 16 heads. Units sometimes come with separate male and female sections. The number of heads required for a camp varies depending on the occupants and their work schedules. Ratios vary from 10 heads per person to as much as 25 heads per person. Generally the larger the camp and/or the more varied the work schedule, the higher the ratio. A ratio of 15-20 heads per person works well for most camps.


For most camps, power for all items is provided by generators. The amount of equipment used along with the layout of the site will determine the number of generators and the capacity. The power needs of the camp should be sized by a professional experienced with temporary power. Additionally, request sound attenuated or special event generators. This will reduce the amount of noise generated by the camp during sleep hours.


During operation, a camp needs a steady supply of water and fuel for generators. It is rare for a camp to be mobilized when and where both services are available. In most cases, the camp provider can procure these services.

The water needs of the camp will vary based on the usage requirements of the equipment (restrooms, showers, and a kitchen if catering is on-site). Typically, the provider will have water tankers to meet the needs of fresh and gray water to meet the varying needs of the camp. It is generally recommended to let the provider oversee these services as they will have a better understanding of the usage rates of their equipment along with maintaining a consistent schedule.

For fuel, once the total number of generators is determined along with total capacity, a fairly accurate fuel consumption rate can be determined. Unless external tanks are used, generators will need fueling every day. The result is a fairly consistent daily fuel requirement. Either the provider or the end user can arrange for fuel. In some cases, a fuel contractor may want to provide a single fuel drop and not fill individual generators. End users who are not experienced in procuring fuel services may want to leave this service to their provider.

Don’t forget the trash. A camp generates lots of trash; even more so if catering is on-site with a mobile kitchen.  Make sure that enough dumpsters are provided to meet the trash needs of the camp

Since water, fuel, and dumpster requirements for the camp are difficult to project, providers typically supply these services at a fixed cost plus rate. This helps protect both the end user and the provider.


All camps require security to varying degrees depending on the location and configuration of the camp. For example, a fenced in area in a remote area may require minimal security while a large camp in a populated area without natural barriers may require a robust security team. In most cases, it is best for the end user to determine their security needs in conjunction with their head of security or an experienced security professional. To help ensure a safe camp, an adequate amount og light towers must be used to ensure adequate lighting at night.

Additional Considerations

Other units such as laundry, recreational tents (MWR), communication tents/trailers, first aid units, etc. can be added to a camp based on the needs of the occupants.




Clearspan structure used as a market/retail facility post disaster.

2012 Hurricane Season Part 2: Planning

Tents and fabric structures should be a part of most business’ disaster response plans. When used properly, tents can help a business become operational faster and more efficiently. While each business will need to determine their own needs in conjunction with a tent professional, there are general two major areas where tents and structures can help improve and expedite business operations: Specific Purpose Structures and Base Camps.

 Specific Purpose Structures

Specific Purpose Structures are brought in after a disaster to meet a specific function that will help ensure a return to operational capacity. There are two primary areas where structures can help: Replacement Semi-Permanent Facility and Warehouse/Fabrication Facility.

The Replacement Semi-Permanent Facility actually replaces the facility that was damaged or destroyed in the disaster. By using a structure for this purpose, a business can reopen significantly sooner than by waiting on traditional construction. Whether it is a warehouse, supermarket, retail facility, or office complex, a structure can be fitted with the right accessories and components to create an environment that will allow operations to continue. Even if the operation is not at full capacity, by opening sooner, a company will be able to keep key employees who may otherwise leave due to the need for a steady income.

Additionally, the location or facility may be part of a strategic supply-chain. By re-opening sooner, businesses maintain continuity placing less hardship on other locations that may have to assume additional volume and workloads.

By using a structure as a Warehouse/Fabrication Facility, a business can help ensure a faster and more efficient restoration. By securing and storing materials onsite, work crews can work faster by not waiting on materials or waiting for the materials to be delivered from a nearby warehouse. Additionally, essential components can be ordered without concern to timelines and shipping schedules. This can help your sourcing team secure better pricing and purchase materials at times when discounts may be greater.

The structure can also be used for fabrication purposes. HVAC and similar building components can be pre-assembled or fabricated in the semi-permanent structure. This allows multiple crews to work at the same time without issue. This will allow work to be accomplished faster which will mean moving in sooner.

Another reason to use a structure in either manner is psychological. A clear message is sent to employees, vendors, customers, and the community that the facility is either open or that crews are working diligently to make sure that the facility reopens.

Base Camps

Base camps have become an increasing part of business disaster response plans – especially for hurricanes. In general, a tent city provides basic essentials (food, shelter, hygiene, etc.) to those who no longer have access to these basic essentials. Base camps can span beyond essentials by incorporating laundry facilities, recreational facilities, first aid units, commissaries, etc. While base camps can be used for meeting the needs of employees, the camps can also be used to provide accommodations for workers reconstructing or restoring infrastructure.

The most logical use for base camps is for businesses meeting the needs of employees who have lost services or who have become displaced due to a hurricane. By utilizing a tent city, businesses provide help to their greatest asset: their people. While there should not be a need beyond basic humanitarianism, business interests are also served. Once employees temporarily locate, the probability of employees returning – and to the same job, becomes less. A business trying to overcome a severe disruption will need to rely on skilled and knowledgeable employees to recover faster. Hiring and re-training employees during this time will only compound issues and essentially make recovery more lengthy and difficult.

Perhaps a less obvious use for base camps is the need to house workers. Typically, workers doing restoration or reconstruction work long shifts and by providing accommodations on site, productivity and morale is increased. Workers do not have the stress of seeking accommodations or having a long commute from a hotel that may be miles away. They are assured of meals and shelter after every shift. Camps for workers ensure that workers remain near the jobsite and that they are well fed and better rested. All of which should lead to greater worker productivity and efficiency, translating into a business become online faster.

Implement the plan

In order to add tents and structures into your disaster plan, work together your risk management and/or disaster response team. Either of these teams can help identify infrastructure that is key to continue business operations. By identifying these elements, a tent/structure professional can work with your team to identify solutions to either replicating the infrastructure or devious strategies to ensure that the infrastructure becomes operational sooner and more efficiently.

The TentInsider Tip

The TentInsider Tip: When calling a tent/structure company for sample pricing, avoid the term “hurricane” or “disaster”. Also, make inquiries during outside of hurricane season. While it may be obvious what a “camp” is for, it is not so obvious when talking about individual structures – particularly a Specific Purpose Structure. I recommend that companies making inquiries use terms like “contingency for fire or similar event” or “risk management planning”. The terms “disaster” and “hurricane” may result in higher prices than normal. With this in mind, do expect to pay more when a “disaster” or “hurricane” is what actually causes the structure need. The supply of structures and crews during these events becomes quite limited. Despite this, you will know typical “contingency” pricing and will be able to determine if the company is providing pricing at a fair reasonable increase due to circumstances or opportunistically gouging.


Katrina Aftermath

2012 Hurricane Season Part 1



June 1 officially marked the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season. Tents and fabric structures play an integral part in helping to meet hurricane response needs. Whether they are used to replace a damaged building, warehouse, gym, or provide temporary accommodations for those who have lost homes, tents can be a valuable tool for both businesses and governmental agencies.


Over the coming weeks, I will blog on a variety of topics concerning the 2012 Hurricane Season and how tents and/or fabric structures can play a key role – and how to better position your business or agency to meet the potential need that may arise after a major hurricane.


I will post a 5-part series with the following topics:


2012 Hurricane Season Part 1: Season Outlook


2012 Hurricane Season Part 2: Tent Planning


2012 Hurricane Season Part 3: Base Camp Essentials


2012 Hurricane Season Part 4: Logistics Company vs. Tent Company


2012 Hurricane Season Part 5: To Retain or Not to Retain



2012 Hurricane Season Part 1: Season Outlook


There are numerous forecasting groups/institutions that issue seasonal storm total predictions. The major forecasting groups foresee a somewhat average to slightly above average season for 2012. NOAA calls for 9-15 named storms with 1 – 3 major hurricanes. Colorado State recently raised their prediction to 13 named storms with 4 major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Risk calls for 13 named storms and 3 major hurricanes.


In the past, I have found that the forecasting groups do a fair job of predicting the amount of tropical storm/hurricane activity for the approaching season. In addition to the forecasting groups’ predictions, I typically look at a couple of other factors. While I am not a meteorologist, recently these factors have had an impact on hurricane activity. These factors are El Niño/La Niña events and sea surface temperatures. These two factors could play a key role in the 2012 season – particularly for major hurricanes which generally cause the greatest damage.


For the 2012 hurricane season, one of the biggest variables would be the development of a weak El Niño late this summer. While current conditions are neutral, models suggest that a weak El Niño will form later this year. In past years, an El Niño event generally results in a less active Atlantic hurricane season. The last strong El Niño event was in 1997 and there was only one major hurricane that year. Medium El Niño events were experienced in 2002 and 2009. In each of those years only two major hurricanes formed. None of the five major hurricanes formed during these three seasons struck the USA as a major hurricane.


While medium to strong El Niño events seem to have an impact on lessening hurricane activity, weak El Niño events, have mixed results. In 2006, a weak El Niño event resulted in two major hurricanes with none striking the USA. In 2004; however, a weak El Niño event happened and a total of seven major hurricanes formed. Three made landfall in the US as major hurricanes.


What do we make of the differences between 2004 and 2006? While there are multiple climatic factors, one of the differences was associated with the second factor that I observe: sea surface temperatures. In 2004, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic were the second highest on record since 1950. In 2006, temperatures were cooler than in previous active years. Currently sea surface temperatures are moderately higher than normal in the Atlantic.


In light of the current neutral (La Niña/El Niño) conditions and high sea surface temperatures, one would expect a typical or slightly active season – as most of the expert groups predict. The pending El Niño event is the wild card and a weak to medium El Niño event could offset the warmer temperatures and lead to a less active year. If sea surface temperatures increase or remain high, all bets are off.


As a “tent guy”, I can’t offer any expert predictions that will reveal any greater skill than what the experts have forecasted. Given my previous experience over the past 10 years in tracking hurricane seasons (along with my rudimentary knowledge of climatic conditions), I believe their predictions are very reasonable and fair. I would expect there to be at least 2 major hurricanes this year. Since no one can predict where the storms will land, everyone in a hurricane prone region must prepare. While I don’t expect the 2012 season to resemble 2005 or even 2008, all it takes is one major hurricane to severely impact lives and business operations.


In the next four posts, I will take a closer look at how businesses can make the right decisions in regards to planning and using tents and fabric structures as part of an effective hurricane response strategy.





Roughly 15 months ago, I left the tent and fabric structure industry. Call it burnout, restlessness, or curiosity. I was fortunate enough to receive an offer from a prestigious company with a reputation for having some of the best employees in their industry.  Many of my colleagues retired after distinguished careers in law enforcement, government, or military. Naturally, many of my colleagues were not overwhelmed when I replied “I sold tents” when they asked what I did at my previous job.

While they were not over impressed, they were curious as to what I meant by “tents”. The normal responses would be “camping tents . . . wedding tents . . . circus tents.” Being in the industry for almost ten years prior to this, I had become accustomed to explaining what I meant by “tents”. I would explain that the types of tents that I usually leased or sold were large and sometimes used as warehouses, construction covers, hangars, maintenance, or sleep tents. This went on for several months and gradually I would give a briefer and rustier explanation to what I meant by “tents”. Overtime, the “interesting” look people would show me soon turned into a strange, perplexed look.

After being away from the industry, I came to better understand that, for many, “tents” were still a strange and foreign concept. Without a decent explanation of what “tents” are and what they be used for, many people will revert back to simple ideas and concepts about “tents” . . . like camping, weddings, or the circus.

After a little over year removed from the industry, I learned that I had a greater passion and love for tents than I previously thought. Because of this, I returned to the industry and I am back serving as a Project Manager for one of the larger tent and fabric structures companies in the US.

As a member of the “tent” industry family, I believe that it is my duty to help educate and advise those who are unfamiliar with what “tents” are and what they can do. The purpose of my blog will be to give readers an idea of what “tents” can do and how to use them safely and effectively. I will provide tips, advice, examples, and information about current trends in industry. I encourage feedback and questions. I look forward to sharing my experiences – good and bad – with everyone here at

© 2012 Kevin Ponder.