10 Keys To A More Secure Ag Retail Facility

Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.
Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.

Foul play was not high on the list of probable causes of the explosion at the West Fertilizer facility, but the events of that tragic day have caused retail managers to take a new look at everything they do to protect and secure their property from all sorts of hazards, accidental and otherwise.

J. Billy Pirkle is one of agriculture’s most respected experts on safety and security at the retail level, and he has the daunting task of establishing and communicating best practices to the more than 750 locations that comprise the industry’s largest retailer, Crop Production Services (CPS).
In addition to his work at CPS, Pirkle has been highly active with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) on issues of safety and security, and is always willing to share his thoughts and research on what works, and what doesn’t at the retail outlet.

His reaction to the West Fertilizer tragedy was not dissimilar to that of most retailers — shock and horror over the images and reports. In the days that followed he was driven by a desire to find out exactly what happened so he could work to ensure that something like this never occurs on his watch.

The exact cause of the explosion was still unknown when we caught up with Pirkle, but we asked him what steps retailers should take in its aftermath to improve safety and security at the retail outlet.

1. Use The SVA Tool. The Security Vulnerability Assessment tool was developed by Agribusiness Security Working Group, and is supported by the ARA, CropLife America and The Fertilizer Institute in cooperation with the Asmark Institute. “I would strongly recommend that retailers use this tool to assess vulnerability, and to work on continuous improvement,” says Pirkle. “It will also necessitate that you involve your local fire department and emergency responders in answering some of the questions, which is a good way to start a dialogue.”

2. Always Be Assessing. There should be some type of weekly or daily assessments or walk-arounds. “You should be looking at access points, looking for unwanted traffic across property and trying to minimize it,” says Pirkle.

3. Work To Limit Access. When it comes to keeping outsiders from coming into the retail facility, there’s not a clear-cut approach to what works. Perimeter fencing, cables, bollards and even ditches can serve to provide some level of deterrence. “The goal is to minimize unwanted traffic, and there are many approaches retailers are using,” says Pirkle.

4. Add A Security System. “We strongly encourage the use of a security system, and at CPS we require a security system in the office and the chemical shed,” notes Pirkle. “Systems used include everything from motion detectors to video cameras to alarm systems. A relatively new security system CPS is starting to use called Tattle Tale pairs up a laser motion detection system with a phone modem, and will automatically alert law enforcement if the laser is tripped.

5. Pull In Local Law Enforcement. “We will typically meet with the sheriff or local law enforcement and have a conversation with them about security,” says Pirkle. “Our facilities are not manned 24 hours a day. We’re here a lot, but much of the year we’re on site only 10 hours a day so our facility would not have personnel on site the other 14 hours. We encourage law enforcement to come by, drive through the property and turn around … we give them full permission to park on property and have as much presence as possible.”

6. Report Everything. “Back when I started, when we had small petty thefts like a stolen battery from a vehicle, or even graffiti, we may not have reported them,” he says. “These days we are encouraging outlets to report all trespassing to law enforcement no matter how minor. It helps law enforcement understand what is going on in the community.”

7. Control Inventory. Good inventory habits are essential to security. “We will go in and review high dollar and hazardous material every morning to ensure we did not have any theft overnight,” says Pirkle. “Inventory control and accountability are critical.”

8. Do Background Checks. “We’ve made security background checks on all new employees a requirement of our new employee hiring process,” says Pirkle. “It’s not as costly or labor intensive as it was even a decade ago. Today it is automated to the point where you can get a background check in 48 hours in some cases, especially if states have electronic databases.”

9. Limit Key Access. Limit access to keys, and minimize the risk of duplication of keys by marking them “do not duplicate.” “Locksmiths and key makers are supposed to abide by the ‘do not duplicate’ mark and refuse to make copies,” says Pirkle. “Also, take keys out of vehicles and lock them up at the end of shifts.”

10. Lock Down What You Can. In rural communities folks may not feel the need to lock-up the house, but the retail facility should be closed up tight every night. “Lock-up valves, pull down and lock windows and doors and secure all access points to discourage intrusion,” says Pirkle.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosphorus Is Leaving Fields
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
StewardshipOhio Farmers Improving Water Quality Through Fertilizer Applicator Training
July 15, 2015
Since last fall, 6,586 growers and producers responsible for farming some 1 million acres of Buckeye State farmland have gone Read More
FertilizerNOAA: Lake Erie Annual Algal Bloom Could Be ‘Historically Bad’
July 13, 2015
If you are hoping there is any hope that harmful algal blooms will not occur in Lake Erie again this Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementCourt Decision Protects Chesapeake Bay’s Water, Wildlife
July 7, 2015
Today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the historic clean-up plan for the Chesapeake Bay. Collin O’Mara, president and Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Allied Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Feed Division Facilities Receive Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification
July 13, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Feed Division, a marketer and distributor of value-added feed ingredients for the aquaculture, livestock and pet food industries Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Expands To Brazil With Acquisition
July 8, 2015
BRANDT has acquired a majority interest in Target Brasil Fertilizantes Ltda. through its Brazilian subsidiary. Target Brasil manufactures, distributes and Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Allied Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
FungicidesReport: Sudden Death Syndrome Symptoms Appearing In Soy…
July 30, 2015
Last week, symptoms of sudden death syndrome (SDS) began to appear in April 15-planted soybeans at the University of Illinois’s Read More
Seed/BiotechAdvanta Seeds Adds New Phoenix Corn Hybrids
July 30, 2015
Corn growers in the High Plains and Western states have new options available for the 2016 growing season from Advanta Read More
ManagementTechnology and agriculture: a Futurist’s Perspective
July 30, 2015
Futurist David Zach, speaking at this week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, shared thoughts on the benefits and limitations of Read More
Biofuels Plant in Lousiana
Industry NewsIdle Biofuels Plant In Louisiana To Reopen As Ammonia F…
July 30, 2015
A Lithuania-based company plans to spend $265 million to reopen an idle biofuels refinery in Grant Parish as an ammonia Read More
FFA at Monsanto Booth at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Industry NewsFive Students Receive The 2015 Monty’s Plant Food Compa…
July 29, 2015
This fall, five college-bound students will have financial support through the Monty’s Plant Food Company FFA Scholarship. All five scholarship Read More
GYPSOIL Blendable Pellets
Crop InputsBeneficial Reuse Management Launches Pelletized Gypsum …
July 29, 2015
Beneficial Reuse Management (BRM) announced this week at Ag Media Summit that its GYPSOIL Pelletized Products Division will open a Read More
StewardshipOhio Water Quality Project To Determine How Much Phosph…
July 27, 2015
Researchers with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are looking for farmers in Read More
FertilizerKoch Agronomic Services Launches N-TEGRATION Technology
July 27, 2015
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (KAS) has launched  N-TEGRATION Technology, a process technology platform designed to enable production of enhanced efficiency fertilizers at Read More
HerbicidesExpert: IARC Herbicide Classifications Leading To Confu…
July 24, 2015
Few people in the crop protection industry had heard of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) before this Read More
ManagementFCI Trade Summit Update & Precision Tank Turns 50
July 23, 2015
Editors Dave Frabotta and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the upcoming FCI Trade Summit in Las Vegas, NV, and how Precision Tank Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesUSDA Deregulates Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Cotton Trait
July 23, 2015
The USDA today issued its decision deregulating Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the U.S. The USDA has now completed its Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Showcases Versatile Product Por…
July 23, 2015
Technology has revolutionized agriculture by bringing farmers, retailers and distributors to the forefront of the digital age. To meet the Read More
FertilizerWSJ: Cf Industries Exploring Merger With Dutch Chemical…
July 23, 2015
U.S. fertilizer maker CF Industries is in advanced merger talks with Amsterdam-listed chemical company OCI NV, the Wall Street Journal Read More
HerbicidesNufarm Releases New Panther SC Herbicide
July 23, 2015
Nufarm has announced the availability of new Panther SC herbicide. Panther SC is the first liquid formulation of flumioxazin available Read More
EquipmentFarmLink Launches Farm Equipment Sharing Program
July 23, 2015
FarmLink has introduced a new online farm equipment sharing community – MachineryLink Sharing – leveraging this new economy business model Read More
HerbicidesCould The South’s Most Troublesome Weed Represent A Thr…
July 22, 2015
Palmer amaranth is undoubtedly the most troublesome weed in the southern United States, taking a devastating toll on both cotton Read More
Industry NewsH.J. Baker Hires New Director Of International Sales
July 22, 2015
Global Agriculture firm H.J. Baker announced today that Steve Langley has joined the company’s Crop Performance Division and Animal Health Read More