A ‘K' rating is a Crash Test Certification issued by the Department of State (DOS) to a fence, gate, barrier or bollard indicating perpendicular impact penetration of a vehicle of a specific weight at a specific speed. In other words, it measures the particular stopping power of a barrier in relation to the speed and weight of an incoming vehicle. The K rating weight of the vehicle is standard at 15,000 lbs. These DOS standard barriers can only allow the truck to penetrate no more than 36 inches past the bed.
- K4 rating is for a vehicle traveling 30mph
- K8 rating is for a vehicle traveling 40mph
- K12 rating is for a vehicle traveling 50mph.
This test rating has been used to issue contracts since 2000.
Crash rated material and products are used in many different commercial, industrial and government applications. They are also used in high profile private residences and estates. Power plants, fuel depot, chemical plants, federal and state government and military installations all have these products installed. Perimeter fencing and gates achieve their K rating through the addition of cable and/or beam reinforcements. Active barriers such as drop arm barriers, wedge barriers, capture barriers and pop up bollards achieve their K rating (as a rule) through enhanced materials and foundations. For example, a project may use heavier gauges of steel anchored into reinforced concrete footings. Regardless of the barrier type, the “K’ rating has become the standard for anti-terrorism crash barrier protection in the last decade. Commonly know as Anti-terrorism force protection or ATFP. These ratings are also being covered by American Society for Testing and Materials or ASTM.
Due to the security challenges we face in the present era, one would think that users of K rated products would like a fortress style barrier. However, the use of natural barriers, decorative products, and enhanced entrance designs allows security to being achieved while providing a more aesthetically appropriate and natural look. We can look to many Federal and State Court buildings to understand the use of this method of protection.
Anti-Ram physical security barriers go through extensive testing prior to being certified with a DOS K rating. This is an expense incurred solely by the manufacturer, and that cost is included in the pricing the final product. Do not be naive in expecting a low-cost anti-terrorism or anti-ram device. Development cost is passed on to the customer then the installation cost is substantially higher because of the considerable foundation required to achieve a specific K rating. Not all government or military installations require K rated systems or products. Having a government specification indicating a K rating requirement means a high-level of security is required for that specific location.
It is important to know what a K rating is and why it is required. As I have stated the K4|K8|K12 ratings are related to anti-ram protection related to speed, weight and penetration of a vehicle as dictated by the Department of State. The requirement for these products continues to grow with every new terrorist event. Demand for these products can be expected with increased capabilities continuing to grow as new global events unfold.
Article contributed by fence professional Chuck Billmyer