THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING LAST APRIL AND the Unabomber's ongoing antitechnology campaign have increased fears about terrorists. Now, Firexx Corp. in Arlington, Va., has developed a security blanket that can be thrown around a building to shield both the structure and its occupants from serious injury.
Firexx Executive Vice-President Charles S. Crawford says that a 12-inch-thick layer of Firexx Fortification padding should prevent structural damage from a bombing such as the one in Oklahoma City, with the equivalent of 2,500 pounds of TNT detonating only 10 feet or so from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. That estimate is based on tests last November by Battelle Memorial Institute labs, which showed that Firexx padding soaks up more than 99% of an explosion's shock wave. James J. Reuther, a principal research scientist at Battelle, calls the test results "remarkable."
The padding's core is made from a thin sheet of metal foil precisely cut so that when stretched it forms a mesh engineered specifically to dampen a bomb blast. As a shock wave penetrates the foil mesh, the metal first deflects the energy, then collapses, absorbing the blast like a series of leaf springs. Firexx says the material can be wrapped around support columns or hidden beneath fascia panels on walls and perimeter fences.