The Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) has awarded vehicle barrier systems to three cities in southern Oregon through the State Preparedness and Incident Response Equipment (SPIRE) Grant. SPIRE grants fund the purchase and distribution of equipment to be used during an emergency to decrease the risk of loss of life and property damage.
Ashland, Grants Pass and Medford each received a Meridian Rapid Defense Group Archer 1200 steel barrier system with a drop-deck trailer and eight anti-vehicle barriers to mitigate the risk of hostile vehicles in their communities.
“The Archer 1200 system gives Jackson and Josephine Counties ready access, as well as a shared capability, to rapidly deploy an effective primary security safety system for entry points, roadways and perimeters,” said Medford Emergency Management Coordinator Aaron Ott. “These barriers will be used to protect people attending parades, ceremonies, summer markets, visits by dignitaries and other public gatherings from vehicle-borne attacks, including vehicle ramming, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices or accidents due to reckless or drunk driving.”
City of Ashland Police Department Chief Tighe O’Meara and City of Grants Pass Police Department Captain Todd Moran emphasized the importance of the three cities working together on the application.
“Ashland, Grants Pass and Medford are the largest communities in Josephine and Jackson County, yet none of these jurisdictions have the resources to acquire these lifesaving barriers,” said O’Meara. “Prior to this award, the only barriers available were patrol cars and limited use of fire apparatus. Large gatherings during protests or street congregations left little to no protection for pedestrians at these events.”
Moran agreed, adding, “Our regional approach means we can deploy barrier kits from neighboring cities when needed, ensuring the widest benefit and guaranteeing supplemental barriers for protection from threats or potential threats.”
The Archer 1200 system allows for one-person deployment of an eight-barrier trailer kit in under 10 minutes and permits pedestrian and emergency vehicle access without moving a barrier. It offers full ballistic protection for armor-piercing 50-caliber rounds. It can also be used to initiate recovery from wildfire events.
Oregon House Bill 2687 established the SPIRE Grant program in 2017 and assigned OEM as the grant administrator. Each piece of equipment must be a capital asset eligible for financing with tax-exempt bonds and have an individual minimum cost of $5,000. While the state purchases the equipment, the awardee is responsible for the maintenance, staffing and response. The state retains the option to request use of the equipment elsewhere if an emergency occurs.
Two rounds of SPIRE grants have been funded since the grant’s inception, with $5 million available each round. The first round, in 2019, funded 79 awardees with 81 pieces of equipment ranging from water purification trailers, mass casualty incident support trailers and high-axle all-terrain vehicles to portable power generators, fuel transportation tankers and mobile water tankers. In 2022, the second round funded 45 awardees with 61 pieces of equipment including the vehicle barrier systems, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles, communications trailers, mobile command centers, sandbagging machines, tactical command vehicles and more. A third round will open later this year.