Vehicular access is crucial part of security systems
From embassies and federal courthouses to transportation
hubs and military bases, a wide variety of government agencies
protect themselves from errant drivers and truck bomb
threats with barriers, bollards, barricades and crash gates.
Many remember when barricades at the United States Consulate
in Herat, Afghanistan, stopped a bomb-laden car and SUV from penetrating
the entrances to the facility. The Taliban attacked the consulate
in western Afghanistan with car bombs and guns on Friday,
Sept. 13, 2013, killing at least four Afghans but failing to enter the
compound or hurt any Americans. The two drivers of the explosivesfilled
vehicles did not survive.
The barricade that protected the consulate staff in Herat can stop
a 15,000 pound vehicle going 40 mph. Certified by the Department of
State, it features a phalanx-type rising plate barrier mounted within
multiple inertial pods and can be deployed in high traffic locations
for full manual or automatic operation within two hours. The plate
barrier lies level to the ground to allow vehicles to pass and is raised
or lowered into position utilizing a hydraulic cylinder driven by a
hydraulic power unit or manually.
From what happened at Herat and other government buildings
that have been protected by barricades while under attack, it is easy
to discern that a large factor in saving lives from vehicle bombers is
to successfully stop the attacking vehicle far enough away from the
building to avoid the high pressure shock wave of a bomb blast.
Typically, though, terrorists don’t go where they see barricades.
By placing the barricades where possible attacks can happen, security
risks can be reduced dramatically, even if the need is only short-term.
Temporary barriers can temporarily protect facilities during events,
such as an international summit or presidential visit, until permanent
barriers are installed, and where physical conditions preclude permanent
solutions, such as the State Department does to protect our
embassy on Paris’ city streets.
Bollards, Barricades and Barriers Protect
More than 160 U.S. embassies and consulates in 130-plus countries as
well as those of the United Kingdom and other nations incorporate
such perimeter protection. Some embassies also employ a BioBooth,
which features outer and inner workrooms with sealed doors, lighting and hospital style floors. Each room has
long countertops and open spaces for staging,
sorting and prospective decontamination.
A bench top-mounted HEPA-filtered
laboratory hood with UV sterilization is
pre-installed and may be flexibly positioned
to isolate and protect the inspector opening
the packages. The booths have controllable
drainage and an internal wash-down hose
bib. An optional sub-floor basin catches the
contaminated liquid for removal through a
valve into a disposal container.
The government is well into the largest
courthouse building program in 50 years,
spurred by increasing space needs identified
by the Federal Judiciary. According to
the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
(AOUSC), the continued growth of the Federal
Judiciary has resulted in a system comprising
1,900 judges and 26,000 employees. Current
facilities are under severe pressure to maintain
and provide for increased court dockets, the
expanding variety of ancillary activities related
to legal proceedings, reliance on modern technology
and greater security needs.
At the Miami Federal Courthouse, a
loop detector holds the Delta TW2015 barrier
open until the last part of the vehicle has
passed the closing loop, located beyond the
unit. The detector then gives a pulse on departure,
instructing the barrier to rise after
the vehicle has passed. Such barriers, barricades
and bollards discourage attempts to
cause harm and assure employees and others
conducting business at a federal courthouse
that they can feel secure, whether at the Pete
V. Domenici United States Courthouse in Albuquerque,
the U.S. Courthouse in Syracuse,
N.Y., or 100 others.
Originally used primarily to stop the constant
risk of thefts at car rental agencies, bollards,
barriers, barricades and crash gates are
now common throughout airports. Booths
were traditionally used for housing guards
who collected parking fees. Today, they’re often
ballistic rated. From protecting the tarmac
to passenger areas, airports are especially conscious
of controlling vehicle access.
For instance, among the many FAA
mandates airports must meet is one that requires
securing access points to international
freight lines. That includes access to air cargo
facilities, where scores of trucks must go in
and out on an hourly basis. The sliding gate
system that is used in such an application
must be crash rated. Clear openings range
from 12 to 30 feet.
A linear crash gate will withstand the impact
of a 15,000 pound vehicle striking the
gate at 50 mph. Gates like these can be seen at
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on
the runway accessing the Singapore Airlines
and Qantas Airlines terminals.
After the 1983 bombing of the Marine
barracks in Lebanon, the Defense Department
has been consistently upgrading vehicle
access to military bases and their living
quarters throughout the world. The implementation
at Schofield Barracks and Fort
Shafter on Hawaii’s island of Oahu is typical.
At all eleven entrances, there is a screening
area where a guard stops the vehicle, asks for
and checks an ID. If everything is fine, the
vehicle is authorized to continue into the
base. However, if a non-authorized vehicle
ignores the guard or decides to take off on
his own into the base, the guard activates the
vehicle access system which pops into action
and stops the car or truck dead in its tracks.
Similar systems are used at other Army
locales as well as at U.S. Navy and Air Force
bases throughout the world.
It is almost a cliché in international spy
movies. The good guys need to escape to
the adjoining country to avert certain death.
They pile into a car or truck and head for the
border, which is defended by armed soldiers
and a barricade consisting of a wooden bar
the size of a broom handle. The car revs up,
the guns begin shooting and the car roars
through the barricade with splinters exiting
out of the field of view.
Located between San Diego and Tijuana,
the San Ysidro Landed Port of Entry (SYLPOE)
is the busiest land port in the world,
processing an average of 50,000 northbound
vehicles per day. The majority of the traffic
lanes have two stacked bullet-resistant inspection
booths created for northbound traffic.
Contrary to the flimsy wooden bar in the
movie borders, the high-strength wire rope
of beam barricades will stop a non-armored
or non-tracked vehicle weighing 6,000
pounds at 40 mph. The barrier has been certified
per U.S. Navy TM-56-86-05 to have a
performance evaluation of 1/L3.0.
Some of the most secure 10 to 100 yards
of property in the world are at border crossings.
At crossings using vehicle access control,
the odds of a vehicle penetrating to any
extent are almost zero. Terrorists simply
need to find another alternative.
A High School
A vehicle moving at 50 mph has 25 times as
much kinetic energy as it would at 10 mph.
Thus, an armored car weighing 30 times as
much as a Toyota Corolla and moving at 10
mph would have less hitting power than the
Toyota moving at 60 mph.
Because of this, every effort must be
made to force a vehicle to slow down before
it reaches the barricade. The most frequently
used technique is to require a sharp turn
immediately in front of the barrier. When
vehicle speed is reduced by 50 percent, the
“hitting power” is reduced by four times. If
the speed is reduced by 2/3rds, the force of
impact will be reduced by nine times.
Upon designing a way to slow down vehicle
approach, precautions should also be
taken that the attacking car cannot make a
“corner cutting shot” at a barricade. Often,
only a light post defines a turning point and a
speeding car can take it out and not even hesitate.
Knolls and other impediments should
be considered. If the approach to the facility
is long, it’s best to create curves along the access
roads as a natural obstacle to speeding
cars or trucks.
Without adequate testing, there is no assurance
that the barrier will resist the threat.
Testing is normally by an independent testing
company or government agency, such as the
State Department (DOS) and the military.
Today’s barriers are capable of stopping
and destroying a truck weighing up to 65,000
pounds. Such barricades can be raised or
lowered at will to stop traffic or let it through.
In an emergency, the thick steel plates or bollards
pop out of the ground within one second.
A mobile barrier can be towed and set
up in only 15 minutes. Nonetheless, it will
stop a 15,000 pound vehicle going 30 mph.
One final area that should not be overlooked
is aesthetics. With today’s smart designs,
it’s no longer necessary to choose between
form and function. You can have them
both. Designers are creating secure environments
with more compatible and aesthetically
pleasing architectural elements.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Security Today.