Tuesday, July 26, 2016

FBI = Folks Barging In

I posted something about stopping truck attacks just yesterday and, what do you know, today someone ran a dump truck through the front gate of the FBI field office in Pittsburgh. See this local TV news report for what sketchy details are available now.

From the photo above we can see that the FBI facility had a proper perimeter fence, swinging gates, and operable vehicle barriers consisting of rising metal plates. I assume the FBI complied with all the applicable Interagency Security Standards for a federal facility of its type. So, what went wrong? Because, as you can see from the photo below, the dump truck crashed right through that vehicle barrier and ended up inside the FBI's protected perimeter.

What happened, simply, was physics. The FBI's vehicle barrier appears to be of an intermediate-grade type, too low (only around 20 inches high) to engage the truck at its center of gravity, and merely bolted to the surface of the roadway rather than installed in a deep pit. That barrier was overmatched by a medium-size dump truck moving at - I would guess - 30 to 40 miles per hour. The truck brought more kinetic energy than the barrier was capable of withstanding, and ripped it right out of the road surface.     

Eyewitnesses told the local news media that the truck launched into the air momentarily when it ran over the barrier, so I'm sure the driver must have been banged about and possibly he was stunned. However, the truck looks intact. If the driver had been better prepared, he might have been able to keep driving all the way up to the FBI's front door.

Apparently there was no terrorist motive, and the driver seems to be a random nut. Nevertheless, this is a bad day for the FBI, and for any other USG agency that is using similar vehicle barriers. It's always a bad day when security vulnerabilities are exposed. Oh, the Congressional oversight ... the OIG reports ... the security surveys.

My heart goes out to them, so here are a couple free tips. First, reassess the sizes of truck your perimeter anti-ram designs are based on. Today's driver just invalidated any design basis threat less than a medium dump truck. Second, before you overreact and replace all of your intermediate-level barriers, consider using chicane approaches to slow traffic down to speeds that can be handled by the barriers you have now.


James said...

I agree with your post, except the size of the truck. It looks like a small 8 yarder and empty. And from the writing on the flaps a rental.

TSB said...

The truck was empty, but even empty it's plain curb weight was more than that barrier was rated to stop if it was moving at 40-ish MPH. I was surprised to see a light-weight, sedan-type, barrier used at any FBI office. The greater height of a truck is alone enough to run over such a barrier.

Just an aside: European type small trucks with a cab-over-front-wheels design are considerably harder to stop than the usual American type. Many fleet vehicles in the U.S. are going to Euro type small trucks, so our vehicle barriers are rapidly becoming obsolete.

James said...

Just a couple of observations. I have a feeling that truck was stolen from a jobsite. It has the look of a small time handy man contractor.
I wonder if the Allegheny Fence Co. has been getting many calls after this photo.

TSB said...

Well, any advertising is good. The folks at Allegheny might turn this to their advantage.

Md Shohidul Islam Robin said...

Do you recommend Flap Barrier Gate or Tripod Turnstile

TSB said...

Md Shohidul Islam Robin,

Thanks for your comment. I'd say a flap barrier, if they make one large enough for trucks.