Not for Crash Dummies

We don’t talk much about bollards and barriers, but it’s a part of security that captures my curiosity. Maybe it is just because I like the crash dummies. Part of me hasn’t grown up yet; I like cars.

On my work desk I have quite a collection of diecast cars, including a couple of race cars from the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, a No. 19 Elliot Sadler Stanley NASCAR, an HSM electronic protection services Aston Martin and 1958 Lincoln. Just to keep all these “toys” in line, I have a 2005 Crown Victoria Texas State Trooper car.

Portable barriers seem like an economical means to provide security at some pretty high-level events. Not so long ago, the city of Pittsburgh welcomed leaders from the world’s most powerful economic nations by hosting the G-8 conference. City officials deployed nearly a dozen 12- and 16-foot mobile deployable vehicle crash barriers.

In this case, the barriers were manufactured by Delta Scientific, and the MP5000s were towed into position and controlled vehicle access within 15 minutes. Roadway excavation was not needed because there is no subsurface preparation.

Crash barriers are pretty handy to have around if you want to stop a vehicle. The barriers deployed in Pittsburgh have a K4 rating, which means they are capable of stopping a 7.5-ton vehicle traveling at 35 miles per hour. A K8 rating will stop the same vehicle traveling at 40 mph.

“From a purchasing standpoint, it can be easier to purchase portable barriers than permanent ones,” said David Dickinson, senior vice president at Delta. “The latter are oftentimes placed into an organization’s real assets budget because they are permanently installed into the ground, becoming part of the property.

“Such budgets often create complex purchasing scenarios. However, purchasing portable barriers is no different than buying a golf cart or new set of wrenches for the maintenance department.”

Mobile deployable vehicle crash barriers are used worldwide. They can be towed into place by a threequarter ton pickup, or as seen in the loose sands of the Middle East, by a military-grade Humvee. Many portable barricades are being used to protect troops from vehicle bomb attacks throughout Afghanistan.

“Both the operation of the barrier as well as deployment and retrieval are push-button controlled,” Dickinson said. “A standard system includes a battery- operated power unit, replenished from either a solar array or local low-voltage source.”

Portable barriers also have become quite popular at stadiums and concert venues on many college and university campuses. As quickly as they can be pulled into place prior to any event, they can easily be removed to preserve the aesthetic nature of the campus once the event has been completed.

Aside from the use of a barrier, security experts also rely on bollards to complement security on campuses and buildings.

With its historical significance and cultural value, there is an abundant amount of foot and vehicle traffic at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. Security measures are paramount not only because of the buildings and valuable contents, but this is where the former president is buried.

Security experts at the campus have included not only bollards but a perimeter cabling system used to protect pedestrians, the library and museum grounds. Hundreds of researchers visit Simi Valley every year to access the library’s extensive archival holdings: nearly 50 million pages of documentation, more than 1.5 million photographs and large amounts of film and videotape.

It seems like it would be a difficult task to ensure fence wires stay at a proper height, given the propensity of ground movement in California, but security experts employ the use of a buried anchor or deadman, which with a length of light chain or galvanized wire is attached and buried in the low area. The end of the chain or wire is exposed, aboveground, so it can be tied to the fence wires above. In designing a deadman, cast-off pieces of iron can be used. Almost anything will work if it’s heavy enough. In Simi Valley, concrete is used.

“Cables are placed at 30 inches and 35 inches above ground,” Dickinson said. “The other end of the cables are terminated with ‘thimbled’ ends and attached to the anchor bolts with turnbuckles and jaws.” I suppose with the state of terrorism these days, it should come as no surprise to anyone that such fortifications are necessary.

In College Station, Texas, there sits the 90-acre George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Decorative bollards protect the roadways that lead into the campus itself. They are usually kept in the upright position but can be lowered to allow authorized vehicles to pass. Without question, security is important to the facility.

The reason for such tight security is that the library’s collections include 38 million pages of official and personal papers. There are 1 million photographs, 2,500 hours of videotape and 70,000 museum objects. The bollard system protecting the facility allows the bollard to operate individually or in groups up to 10 at a time.

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.

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