What is the MAMAD?
MAMAD is an acronym for merkhav mugan dirati, or apartment-protected space.
There are also buildings in which you have a MAMAK which is a merkhav mugan komati meaning a protected space belonging to a floor in the building. These will come in buildings where there are no mamads in the individual apartments.
Any apartment built in Israel after the gulf war (1993) must have a mamad. The idea is that the mamad is conveniently located inside your home so you could reach it quickly and can also be considered as normal living space.
The mamad is a reinforced security room meant to offer protection against high impact projectiles and chemical weapons. Its walls are built out of reinforced concrete and it has airtight steel doors and windows. The room has 2 openings, usually one window and one door, never on the same wall. The minimal net area of the room is 9 square meters (In places where this is not possible a 5 square meter room may be approved).
The door to the mamad is a heavy iron door which will always open outwards. There must be a concrete wall protecting the door when opened.
The window consists of two parts; an outer iron cover, and an airtight sealed interior window. The iron cover slides into the wall or opens outwards, so it is not noticeable when not in use. The window will always open inwards into the room. The size of the window is no more than 1.21 square meters, where the width is between 60 to 100 centimeters. Usually, the window will be 100-110 centimeters wide.
There must be at least 3 electric sockets, one phone socket and one tv/radio socket in the room (this is especially important to realize when planning ultra orthodox homes where tv outlets are not installed in other rooms).
Another important component is the ventilation system (added to the regulations in 2010). This is a pretty big, clumsy looking piece.
In the past years they have designed some sleeker ones, looking more like an AC unit on the wall.
Ask your builder what model he is supplying. Take this element in account when planning the room and the closets as it does not show clearly on the floor plans.
How do I make use of this room?
Since Israelis typically don’t have an entire room in their homes to leave empty in anticipation of a possible rocket attack, the mamad often has other uses as well: as an unofficial machsan (storeroom), or a playroom, study or bedroom.
Here are some useful guidelines and tips:
- It is important to keep in mind that the room is your protected space in times of need and therefore it has to be planned in a way that enables all house members to fit in there comfortably. Don't overfill it with closets and don't block the window or air ventilation system. It may not be used as a bathroom or a kitchen.
- The heavy window opening into the room is not always so convenient. To bypass this, you can order the window with a two-way opening (tilt-and-turn), this is called a 'dri kip' window.
- The mamad window must enable escape too; therefore if you decide to install protective bars on the window they must be foldable.
- The mamad door is rather clumsy and hard to close. You could have a wood doorframe installed above the metal frame with a regular lightweight (and more attractive) door to be used on a regular basis. This door will open inwards like in all other bedrooms. Some people take off the heavy metal door and keep it in storage. This is not approved by the Israeli Home Front Command.
- What about air conditioning? If you install an AC duct in the room you must add a removable steel cover to be placed instead of the air vent in case of attacks. If you install a separate wall unit there are specific instructions regarding the water drainage and opening in the wall for AC piping- make sure your installer is knowledgeable and complies with these rules.
- Floors: you can tile the floors with any covering: tiles, parquet, linoleum etc.
- Walls: can be painted any color you want. There is a recommendation to use glowing paint around the doors and light switches. You can cover the walls with wallpaper or wood covering but not tiles, as those pose a hazard in case of a shock wave.
- If you are renovating and want to make changes to an existing mamad take in account there are two different aspects to consider:
- Structure. The mamad is also an important structural element and you must consult an engineer before making any change in these walls.
- Safety. There is logic and reasoning behind every one of the rules applying to the mamad. Any change needs to be approved by Haga (הג"א), the Israeli Home Front Command.
I will admit that in certain areas of the country we treated these rules and regulations with a certain level of disrespect. In most cases the mamad was planned as to maximize its use in days of peace- which are plenty- without adequately considering days of war. I hope this post will serve as a Tikun (correction) and a reminder to its important role in securing our homes and families.
Shalom Al Yisrael!