Festive Security

Industry Professional

Festive Security

How a California city protects attendees from potential vehicle attacks

Reacting to tragedies in London and Berlin, among others, where vehicles were used as weapons against large numbers of pedestrians, the Fremont (Calif.) City Council decided to heighten protection for its citizens from errant drivers and terrorist vehicles driven at events such as their Fremont Festival of the Arts, Niles Antique Faire and Flea Market, Festival of India, parades and other affairs. Many of these events attract large numbers of people and, of course, gathers them into confined locations. For instance, the 300,000 person Fremont Festival of the Arts, one of the largest street festivals west of the Mississippi River and toted as California’s premiere art, wine and music festival, is no small undertaking. The threat of an attack is a real possibility.

Blocking an Attack

In August of this year, the festival had more than 500 booths filled with unique, one-ofa- kind pieces, not easily found elsewhere. From paintings and drawings, to jewelry and clothing, to household decorations and furnishings, every single piece of art sold is handmade. More than 3,000 volunteers are needed to run the festival. If you lined up all the booths into a straight line, it would run four miles. No wonder, then, after the tragedies at Nice and elsewhere, the city felt it was important to protect people from vehicle attack, stopping a vehicle from plowing into a crowded area of innocents.

In an article in the East Bay Times, Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero emphasized that special events are an important part of a community’s fabric.

“They provide an opportunity for people to come together in different ways than they do in their ordinary, day-to-day life and have a chance to connect,” Lucero said. “In order for it to be effective, it’s got to be safe.” He continued by saying that the potential danger of cars driving into public gathering areas to kill and hurt people is “very real.”

“When somebody comes to our festival, we don’t want them to worry about their safety,” said Lt. Matt Snelson of the Fremont Police Department.

By their very nature, terrorist attacks are unpredictable and predicated on surprise. Staying one step ahead by identifying vulnerable areas, and securing them, is critical to staving off vehicular attacks. That means being able to deploy security equipment in tough conditions, at a moment’s notice.

Ed Fonseca, president of Fun & Game Rentals, who is in charge of many of the festival rides, related that, in the past, festival operatives had to park their own cars in the entrances to help guard festival attendees. Operators would need to run and move their cars anytime an authorized vehicle had to enter festival grounds.

To better protect visitors to local events, the city decided to purchase 12 Delta portable, temporary barricades that would control access to the festivities. Fonseca explained that, with the portable barricades, the entrances are closed to traffic but can be lowered to let emergency, authorized law enforcement and delivery vehicles through. Thus, operators will no longer need to keep scurrying to their vehicles whenever someone needs to enter.

Contrary to water or cement barricades, the mobile deployable vehicle crash barriers carry a K8 rating (M40 ASTM rating), stopping 7.5 ton vehicles traveling 40 mph, and tow into position to control vehicle access within 15 minutes. No excavation or subsurface preparation is required. Once positioned, the totally self-contained MP5000’s unpack themselves by using hydraulics to raise and lower the barriers off their wheels. No hand cranking is required. DC-powered pumps then raise the barrier to keep vehicles out or lower the barrier to let vehicles through. Wheels are stored along the sides and the vehicle ramps fold out, completing the implementation. To move the barrier from that spot to another, the procedures are simply reversed.

This year’s August festival was the first test of the new security system. The 12 totally self-contained MP5000’s were towed to the 12 entrances into the festival and successfully controlled vehicle access for the duration.

Realizing that protecting people from vehicle attack is no small responsibility—it is becoming mandatory—made news in the Bay Area. The city was lauded for its investment in having the right equipment in place to secure its events from vehicle threat and prevent what is becoming all too common human tragedy, bringing peace of mind to event attendees. Besides local newspaper coverage, the local Bay Area CBS television station, KCBW, even ran a two and a half minute feature on the new safety protection with comments from local people.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Security Today.

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