On the heels of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adoption last year, the Physical Security Reliability Standard could fuel demand for hundreds of thousands of lineal feet of precast fences, one of the past decade’s faster growing manufactured-concrete market segments.
The standard was issued by the FERC-aligned North American Electric Reliability Corp. A rule codifying it calls for power companies to a) identify substations and other vital infrastructure where damage from firearms and other terrorist or vandal tools could cause blackouts or power outages; and, b) safeguard such facilities by 2016. Possibly the tip of an iceberg ushering tighter rules and regulations for the electricity grid, the Physical Security Reliability Standard does not contain prescriptive construction measures. Preliminary safeguarding strategies, however, factor protective structure or components’ performance according to UL 752 Standard for Bullet-Resisting Equipment.
Among precast producers working with infrastructure security-minded utilities ahead of FERC actions is Superior Concrete Products Inc. (SCP). The Euless, Texas, producer and design-build contractor has branded a new reinforcing feature, Superior Ballistics, doubling the strength of its fence and barrier panels, and making them impervious to close-range fire from high caliber ammunition.
“Security is an issue for many businesses, and protecting valuable equipment and personnel a major concern, especially for utility companies,” says SCP President Todd Sternfeld, who founded the company in 1986. “With recent sniper attacks on electrical substations in California and Arizona, protecting the nation’s power grid is a top priority for utility executives and government officials. We recognized that the time had come to develop a new type of security fencing, one that fit seamlessly into the environment without looking like a military bunker.”
Superior Ballistics couples a membrane and proprietary embedment process greatly reinforcing precast members typically fabricated at 2-in. thickness. Prior to the brand launch, SCP subjected Ballistics specimens, slightly thicker than normal fence or barrier sections, to rigorous impact. Testing facility staff fired a .308 Winchester caliber round from a high-powered rifle into a panel from 30 feet; while the Ballistics fence section sustained damage, the bullet did not penetrate.
“In the past, chain link was widely used as perimeter fencing by many utility companies. However, chain link is easy to climb and provides no protection from vandals or terrorists who can shoot straight through the fence,” notes Sternfeld. “With a solid barrier of ballistics-reinforced precast concrete, critical power-generating equipment is protected.” Even before the FERC rulemaking was completed, he adds, utilities across the country had approved the company’s fence and barrier solutions to protect and screen electrical transformers—all recognizing precast products’ strength, affordability and low-maintenance design.
Superior Ballistics positions SCP with an attractive, bullet-resistant precast concrete fence that can be customized to the exact size, color and texture needed for a security installation. The producer is offering the robust feature in solid fencing and barrier products matching or mimicking its Superior Brick, Superior Cobblestone and Superior Stucco lines. SCP ships to domestic and international markets, while also licensing technology and molds around the world. Certain domestic projects are turnkey, with SCP engineering, fabricating and installing fence systems. — www.concretefence.com