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Design Resources for Blast-Resistant Buildings

Does your engineering firm find itself needing to know more about the design of buildings for blast-resistance?  Are you aware of the many available resources developed by a variety of public or government agencies which provide guidance on assessing risk level and threats for commercial or government buildings or determining required blast loads for design?

In the March 2021 SE University session, Aldo E. McKay, PE, from Protection Engineering Consultants, presented Blast-Resistant Design of Buildings.  Aldo shared references and resources available for blast protection of buildings and reviewed the basics of modeling structural systems and components under blast loads.  He also explained the blast loading performance objectives and blast loading requirements for different market sectors.

Aldo shared some necessary resources for the engineer who may be new to the blast-resistant design of buildings.  First, he mentioned FEMA 426 Reference Manual to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks Against Buildings, FEMA 427 Primer for Design of Commercial Buildings to Mitigate Terrorist Attacks, and FEMA 428 Primer to Design Safe School Projects in Case of Terrorist Attacks.  Specifically, FEMA 426 gives an overview of physical security design concepts and the Threat and Vulnerability Risk Assessment (TVRA) process.

When designing airports, engineers may use TSA guidelines and several reports put out by the Program for Applied Research in Aiport Security (PARAS) including PARAS 0014 Blast Mitigation Strategies for Non-Secure Areas of Airports and PARAS 0028 Recommended Security Guidelines for Airport Planning, Design, and Construction.  Aldo noted these reports include some valuable guidance as far as explosive weight data and standoff distances.

Aldo highly recommended ASCE 59-11 Blast Protection of Buildings.  This document is available for purchase from ASCE and includes a comprehensive overview of the current practice in the analysis and design of structures for blast-resistance.  It offers guidance on performance objectives and response criteria as well as modeling and detailing for blast-hardening.  Aldo noted that many of the government agencies are now referencing ASCE 59-11.

As far as government standards, Aldo highlighted The Risk Management Process for Federal Facilities: An Interagency Security Committee Standard which is used for federal courthouses, FBI Buildings and other GSA facilities, as well as Physical Security and Resiliency Design Manual for the physical security design of VA facilities.  For the Department of Defense, the United Facilities Criteria (UFC) 04-20-01 DoD Security Engineering Facilities Planning Manual and the UFC 4-010-01 DoD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards For Buildings.

Most of these documents are available as a free download from the links provided.  These available resources should be a helpful reference to engineers tackling projects which may need a TVRA or are designated to require a blast analysis by any government agency. Some government resources may have distribution limitations.