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Expert: commercial buildings should reduce bomb risks.

While tougher building codes may help new construction withstand bomb attacks, existing buildings also can take steps to lessen the damage of potential bombs, said Darrell Barker, vice president of extreme loads and structural risks for ABS Consulting in San Antonio.

After the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, the federal government changed requirements for its new construction, Barker said.

For instance, it required windows to be glazed to prevent shattering, as well as requiring improved wall construction and the structural integrity of buildings.

"In Oklahoma City, an external column failed and a large girder on the outside failed, and the building collapsed into itself. So now they've put more continuity into the structure, so if they lose a column, it doesn't bring the rest of the building down," Barker said.

The federal government also evaluated its existing buildings, and began to systematically retrofit them to become more resistant to bombs. Barker said he expects to see commercial building codes--especially those for multistory buildings--also strengthened.

There are a number of steps companies are already taking to make their buildings more resistant to bombs. For instance, putting a film over windows to help prevent the glass from shattering, which can serve double-duty in that it also helps the building become more energy efficient, Barker said.

Installing safety film on glass is one of the cheapest ways to mitigate damage from a bomb, he said. It costs $5 to $10 per square foot of glass, as compared to $50 per square foot to replace windows with laminated glass.

It's also a good idea to have a strong and very visible security force that patrols outside of the building, as well as inside, Barker said. Also, companies can defend their perimeter by installing concrete barriers, such as large planters, so vehicles can't get too close to the building. That can cost about $100 per foot, Barker said.
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Title Annotation:Loss/Risk Management Notes
Author:Green, Meg
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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