How to Design Effective Fences

Here are three ways you can prevent individuals from breaching your campus border.

Fences are designed to clearly define borders and boundaries or to prevent access through or along the fence line, or both. Fences used to control access should be difficult to cut, crawl under or climb.

To prevent access by cutting or climbing in a campus environment, it is best to use fence materials that are tubular metal and welded wire.  Blunt cut top projections discourage climbing, and mini-mesh chain link (with openings less than 1 inch) can be used effectively in heights over 10 feet. Conventional chain link is the least desirable type of fence material.

Even the best fences, however, can be compromised by design features or objects placed adjacent to a fence that facilitate climbing. The photos in this photo gallery illustrate some commonly encountered climbing aids. There are many others, and they will change on a regular basis.

Programs to control climbing aids should include the following elements:

  1. Walk the fence line at regular intervals and look for anything on or near the fence interior or exterior that could aid climbing.
  2. Evaluate anything constructed or placed near a fence for its potential to be used as a climbing aid.
  3. Observe, when possible, to see where and how the fence is actually breached.

Climbing aids can be countered with a variety of measures including removing or moving them away from the fence, rerouting the fence to bypass them or placing a short hedgerow adjacent to the fence to make climbing impractical.

For examples of fences with inappropriate designs, visit our photo gallery on this topic: Vulnerable Fences: What Not to Do.

About the Author

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Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at jimgrayson@mindspring.com. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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