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NEWS | Jan. 24, 2018

Exposed ladders at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston must be identified, made safe

By Krystal Carrion 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office

Many buildings at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston were built in another era, some more than a century old. A large number of these buildings have exposed ladders on the outside. This is a problem from several perspectives.

The first concern is safety. More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year, with 700 deaths on the job occurring annually.

The second concern is unauthorized access. Many of the buildings along Stanley Road and other areas house vital and important offices with potentially sensitive material.

And the last concern is terrorism. A person set on committing mayhem or committing an act of terrorism can use an unsecured and unprotected exposed ladder to gain entrance to an area where they may take hostages or even commit violent acts upon innocent people.

The majority of active shooter incidents took place in a business. Active shooter incidents are unfortunate, and in response to lessons learned, increased awareness initiatives and agency collaborations have been established.

The 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office has partnered with Anti-Terrorism Security Forces, the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron, and 502nD ABW Public Affairs to eliminate vulnerable areas with exposed ladders. There need to be cages and locks affixed over all fixed outside ladders.

It is our responsibility as a team to ensure that all employees working on the installation are aware of the dangers of not preventing unauthorized access.

Will you join the initiative to eliminate exposed areas? All exposed ladders without cages need to be identified as soon as possible. Once identified, share the information with your unit’s facility manager. A work request is required to be submitted to 502nd CES for processing and coordination.

The references listed will assist facility managers with the description justification for work:

  1. Air Force Instruction 91-203, paragraph
    Access: Ladders available to public access require guarding to prevent unauthorized access. Typically, the bottom seven feet shall be guarded. Examples of guarding include the use of a fence with locked gates and making the bottom portion portable or spring loaded and available only as needed. Additionally, there must be a warning sign prohibiting access by unauthorized persons.
  2. United Facilities Criteria (UFC) 4-010-01
    DOD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards for Existing Buildings: Eliminate external access where possible or secure external ladders or stairways with locked cages or similar mechanisms. The civil engineer squadron will ensure engineering infrastructure, installation and/or facility design, physical security, resource protection, fire emergency services, explosive ordnance disposal, expeditionary engineering, and emergency management mitigation and projects supporting vulnerabilities identified in Core Vulnerability Assessment Management Program are referenced and prioritized in ACES (T-3).

If your unit is using any fixed ladders, let your unit’s safety team know. Before using any fixed ladder, the ladder must be inspected and classified. Ladders without evidence of inspection must not be used until the ladder has been inspected and approved for use. These ladders are likely very old and may not be safe for any use.

The 502nd CES welding shop stands ready to place cages and locks over all fixed ladders. In the long run, it could save a life.