Utilities comprise some of the nation’s most critical infrastructure, which makes the companies providing them highly concerned about the security of their facilities and property. High-security perimeter fencing is a major line of defense against external threats to utility sites, including substations, power plants, water treatment plants, communications facilities and more. 

Utility perimeter fencing must therefore be designed to thwart breaches ranging from basic theft or vandalism to full-on acts of terrorism. This type of fencing should be capable of securing the property, equipment and people inside, as well as mitigating potential disruption of integral utilities provided to the community. 

High Security Standards for Utilities Perimeter Fencing

Often, the physical security for a utility company is based on a multi-layered approach aimed at delaying intruders and maximizing the amount of time their staff has to respond. Therefore, a single perimeter system may include fencing, walls, guardrails, gates, crash protection, bollards or any combination thereof. 

The physical security presence is intended to not only protect the assets of utility companies from being damaged or tampered with by the public, but also to safeguard the public from the dangers of some of the equipment and other items situated within the boundaries of that perimeter. These systems range in types, sizes and height based on the location of the site and the criticality of the assets located inside. 

The best way to ensure secure perimeter fencing for utilities is to opt for fencing products that meet the highest standards, including maximum strength and level of resistance to attack or intrusion.

Types of Security Perimeter Fencing for Today’s Utility Infrastructure

A well-planned physical security plan for a utilities site starts with perimeter fencing that meets the property’s unique needs. Each design requires a thorough assessment to determine the smartest, most effective fencing options and setup. Following are some of the most common types of perimeter fencing employed to secure utilities sites:

  • Steel Mesh Panel: A top contender for high-security applications like utility properties, mesh panels boast a firm structure and smooth surface. Combining high-quality, low-carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum alloy steel, the mesh can be PVC coated or galvanized to resist corrosion and weathering. Mesh is designed with unique spacing to safeguard against climbing and resist penetration.
  • Concrete Wall: Precast concrete walls are highly impenetrable, nearly impossible to scale and capable of withstanding winds of hurricane proportions. Foundations are drilled and set for the concrete posts before placing premade concrete panels in between. Solid concrete fences are particularly ideal against threats to critical assets.
  • Palisade: Consisting of vertical steel pales secured to horizontal rails and mounted to support posts, palisade fencing is a particularly effective deterrent for intrusion and vandalism. It exudes an intimidating visual presence, lacks footholds, is resistant to cutting and features the advantage of height as well as the option for spikes at the top. Palisade fencing is strong, versatile, durable and low maintenance.
  • Chain Link: Chain link is typically constructed from galvanized steel and can be coated in vinyl for extra protection. This material is particularly weather-resistant, featuring durability against heat, cold and moisture. A low-maintenance, low-cost option, chain link can be reinforced with barbed or razor wire for a higher degree of security.

Many forms of security perimeter fencing used to protect utilities sites and facilities are also reinforced with security features like double fencing rows, omitted top rails, anchored bottom rails, height specifications and added systems for lighting and surveillance. Frequently, they are fortified with access control systems and automated gates that make control of entry and egress more secure. 

Case Study in Security Perimeter Fencing for Utilities

As a fencing industry expert, Rutkoski Fencing, Inc. specializes in safely securing all types of utilities and renewable energy, including electric, water, sewer, gas, communications, solar energy and wind energy. Trained, licensed, and experienced in all types of fencing and perimeter security systems, we have years of experience designing and installing precast concrete, anti-cut steel fencing, high security chain link, ornamental fencing, crash barriers and gates.

Recently, we were contracted to secure a substation located in downtown Philadelphia, an area encompassing high traffic volume and high visibility. As part of the construction project, RFI was tasked with ensuring our work areas were secured and safe both while work was underway and when the team was off site (at night and on weekends). 

The scope of the project included removing the existing chain link fence and gates, implementing a temporary fencing system and installing a new 12-foot-high, all-black, powder-coated steel security fencing and gate system with barbed wire. With two different yards to secure, the fencing totaled approximately 2,400 linear feet and six gates, and the project lasted 14 weeks. Some of the challenges faced by the RFI crew included underground obstructions, such as old rubble buried hundreds of years ago, which needed to be excavated. We also had to work in a live, high-voltage substation amidst the day-to-day traffic of Center City Philadelphia. 

Because RFI is highly experienced in this industry and ensures site security is a top priority, our team performed the work without incident, rendering a satisfied customer. We’re dedicated to fostering a positive, safety-centered work culture involving daily job site hazard analysis, safety meetings and trainings, equipment certifications, daily step-backs, preventative maintenance, personal protective equipment (PPE), stop work authority, and adherence to OSHA and internal policies and procedures. These attributes are of critical importance for any fencing project aimed at securing a utility site perimeter.

The Right Partnership is Key for Utilities Security

Given the magnitude of importance placed on securing today’s utilities sites, it’s essential to partner with the right professional for the job. A project like the one above requires no less than expert recommendations on specific system applications, site grading concerns, creative solutions and the best methods to employ based on an evaluation of site-specific details. Be sure to find a qualified, experienced company that will manage the job in accordance with proper standards for safety, security, preventative maintenance and OSHA compliance.

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