Hot Seat: A CFATS Overview

John Romanowich, president and CEO of SightLogix Inc., is uniquely positioned to tackle complex security needs for critical infrastructure. As chair of Security Industry Association’s (SIA) Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Working Group, he can also provide an insider’s perspective on CFATS requirements and the latest on when these standards might be further mandated.

When do you expect CFATS will be implemented as originally envisioned?

The progress to legislate and implement CFATS has certainly been slower than the general public would desire. At the same time, CFATS is a significant initiative and it’s important to step back and acknowledge that some truly good progress has been made after much give and take between the chemical industries, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], and Congress. As one might expect, with each Congress new objectives arise and more give and take must occur. The current Congress is moving toward longer-term or more permanent authorization, which provides chemical companies with a stable environment to move forward with upgraded security measures. So this is a positive trend.

Is there a recurring revenue piece to CFATS-related projects?

There are several forms of recurring revenue that may be available to integrators that win CFATS-related projects. One obvious source comes from maintaining and servicing security systems. There’s also a trend toward monitoring security devices on the IT network to assure their quality of service and uptime. This is really just an extension of the way a network operations center is used to ensure the data flow and monitor the health of the network itself. This is a capability that both large and midsized integrators can support with economic and security justification.

If only the largest integrators are equipped to handle Tier I and Tier II projects, what does a typical category III and IV installation project entail?

It’s important to consider that chemical companies that own Tier III and Tier IV facilities are at times the same companies that own Tier I and Tier II facilities. So whether it’s with a large or smaller integrator, the chemical organizations are going to want to have uniform security across all of their facilities. I can imagine that a local chemical company might work with a good small integrator, but when you start to go to the big chemical companies, the larger integrators are going to be securing the facilities across all tiers on a national level.

The best practices learned from Tier I and Tier II facilities will also provide very good strategies for the third and fourth tiers, where problems are similar. Consider also that a Tier IV facility might be a Tier III tomorrow should they change the quantities or composition of chemicals stored. Chemical organizations will often be best served by looking at their assets overall, regardless of each individual site’s tier level.

How is video helping meet certain CFATS requirements?

Video is starting to play a very important role for enhancing perimeter protection capabilities for outdoor facilities in general and for CFATS in particular. Specifically, CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards require chemical facilities to detect intrusions at the perimeter and internally around chemicals of interest. This helps to avert internal or external theft or sabotage, as per Risk-Based Performance Standards 1, 2, 4 and 10. A challenge with many of the traditional perimeter security or sensing modalities, whether they be fence sensors or microwave sensors, is determining the true cause of an alert, and doing so without delay to enable sufficient response. Now that outdoor video analytics can be used as a reliable detection source, you can not only achieve accurate detection and trusted alerts, but you’ll be able to see a box around detected objects to immediately know the cause of the alert to direct a swift and effective response.

In your estimation, how has the United States progressed since 9/11 in protecting its people and achieving its security goals? Can and should more be done?

Living in a free and open society comes with the challenge of protecting our infrastructure, people and our way of life. Very appropriately the Department of Homeland Security is focused on trying to address the areas of highest risk first, and so it makes good sense that to date they have focused on transportation, energy and chemical security, among other areas. But that said I sympathize with how challenging it is for our government to put the right security measures in place while maintaining our open society. 

Challenges notwithstanding, there’s definitely a need to put more focus on securing surface transportation and our nation’s borders. And we will get there in due time if we maintain the ongoing focus on these problems on an ongoing basis. I also believe the permanent authorization of CFATS is the next logical step to assure that chemical facilities are secured in an efficient and expedient manner. 

As chairman of the Security Industry Association’s [SIA] CFATS Working Group, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with experienced individuals at integration firms, chemical facility security directors, and the DHS Infrastructure Protection Group. I’ve experienced firsthand how they’re working together to educate the industry and advance chemical asset security. 


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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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