Applied Knowledge

Applying Federal Design Criteria To Non-Federal Projects

The US Federal Government (Department of State, Department of Defense and the US General Services Administration/Interagency Security Committee to name a few) have done a great job in developing security design standards and criteria to implement on new and retrofit construction projects for their Departments and Agencies.  These standards and criteria are based on the expertise, experience and knowledge of the writers as well as established self-knowledge regarding the unique building occupancies, construction types, building locations, and risk profiles of their building and project portfolios to which the standards and criteria will be applied.     All of these pieces of information are factored into the individual standards (such as minimum standoff distances, design basis threats, required levels of protection, etc).

It is therefore important for private, state and local entities to research the background of the Federal standards before adopting them for a project.  When thinking of adopting standards, the project team should consider (at a minimum) the following items:

  1. What are the Design Basis Threats included in the standards and do they apply to this building/occupancy/location?
  2. What Level of Protection/Hazard Level does the application of the standards provide for the building and occupants and does this meet with the requirements for the project in question?
  3. What are the minimum standoff distances and are these achievable on the project.  If not, what are the design measures required to mitigate reduced standoff and are they feasible for this project?
  4. What ongoing maintenance and staffing requirements result from the implementation of the standards and are these sustainable for the project?

Lessons to Learn: Pakistan and Afghanistan

These last two months have seen numerous VBIED, MBIED, and assault weapon attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  What knowledge can we, as an industry, take away from these events? 

There are several similarities and patterns that can be seen from a review of the attacks:

  • Coordinated attacks on more than one target
  • Use of official uniforms or vehicles to get closer to targets
  • Repeat attacks on previous targets or target types
  • Multi-attack-mode events

 The following is a list of Lessons to Learn generated from these similarities and patterns,

  • Response Plan:  Ensure that response plans, especially in major municipalities or in high target density areas, address actions to take in the event of multiple, simultaneous, attacks.
  • Official Uniforms and Vehicles:  Security and accountability of uniforms and official vehicles is now more important than ever and policies and procedures should be reviewed and enforced.  This should include implementing an effective mechanism to inform building owners, security personnel, and responders when these items have been stolen or otherwise compromised.
  • Protective design should take multiple attack modes into consideration when possible.  Just as blast resistant windows can provide some measure of hurricane resistance, protective design measures may be able to perform multiple functions when implemented with this in mind.  Some perimeter vehicle barriers can not only provide anti-ram resistance, but also blast resistance (thereby decreasing secondary debris), ballistic resistance and obscuration from off-site surveillance.  If the full array of protective requirements is considered at the beginning of a project, individual protective design elements may be able to serve multiple purposes.

Vehicle Barriers Testing: Default Standard for US

Vendors and owners used to rely on the Department of State Anti-ram barrier test standards and certification – but they are no longer going to update their lists or issue letters of certification. The new de-facto default standard for the United States market looks like it will be the ASTM F2656.