Vanguard Introduces New “FailSafe” System of Detectable Warnings for Blind and Visually Impaired.

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Vanguard ADA Systems of America resolves deterioration problems in pedestrian ramps for cities nationwide, incorporating its highly effective detectable warning system while cost effectively repairing ramps and vehicular way areas where installation of other brands of detectable warnings have failed. Vanguards R&D team effectively cut the cost in half while tripling the lifespan of these necessary repairs.

Nationwide, city by city, engineers and architects have been trying hard to figure out the best way to install detectable warnings, a new federal mandate for pedestrian ramps and access points on city streets and sidewalks benefiting blind and visually impaired.

Some have used bricks which after one Winter most Northern cities have deemed ineffective due to their inability to withstand the weather constraints, salts and other abrasive chemicals or normal abuse.

Still others have tried inlaying preformed concrete or injection molded plastic 2 x 2 squares into a recessed quadrant in the sidewalk/ramp, but the equipment to lift such heavy panels and the fact they could only form right angles made for expensive work.

Typically product failure was being caused by water getting underneath causing “freeze/thaw heave” and with the feds requiring a “visual contrast” of 70% to the surrounding surface municipalities were quickly seeing these products simply weren’t up to the task. Like anything else in new product testing and research, trial and error proved one poignant fact: some products worked, others didn’t.

But what to do with these big gaping holes in sidewalks nationwide once discovering products such as the above weren’t effective and now engineers everywhere had to fix them? Clearly putting back the products that already failed wasn’t a valid option. Filling them with new concrete only insured a new place for water to enter the slab creating even more freeze/thaw damage down the road.

Enter Vanguard ADA Systems, long a leader in the field of non skid detectable warnings nationwide with a research team that apparently doesn’t seem to like the phrase “it can’t be done”. After some lengthy trials, they came up with a new product line, effectively an extension of their existing one. They call it “FailSafe."

“We named it ‘FailSafe’” says owner Jon Julnes “because I figured these people already had enough problems the first go around, and since we knew our solution was actually stronger than the concrete we’d be attaching to, it was a pretty easy call”.

I asked him how big of a problem this really was and he told me “cities all across the country have their own aesthetic requirements, or someone else in another city they knew said ‘we’re going to use such and such product’ so that’s what they used as well, and it’s such a brand new industry, no one really had any data to prove what worked and what didn’t. We’d had a detectable warning system out there for a long time, the only one that was non skid too, but some people really liked the tiles or the ‘wet set’ or bricks, but never took into account what they’d have to do to fix them when they came loose, or wore down, which owners are just now discovering they do a lot faster than anyone expected. We started to get a lot of calls from clients basically saying ‘we used some other product and now we have this huge recess we need to fill in with new domes. It’s a trip hazard. It’s too late to use your product, can you recommend anything?’

After a few dozen calls like that, Julnes, who originally invented The Vanguard System of detectable warnings due to frustration at installing other peoples products that simply didn’t work, realized he was watching money go right out the transom, and got his thinking cap on. “I figured, if I’m getting this many calls, there has to be thousands of others nationwide experiencing similar problems” Julnes opined.

The result was Vanguards new “FailSafe” system. Since filling the void left by these other products with still more concrete would only insure wicking and new freeze/thaw problems, Julnes determined the solution had to insure that there was no way this new substructure would ever fail, at a cost less than what people were already paying to replace the entire substructure. All this while providing at minimum, a pedestrian surface that, like all of Vanguards other systems, would be at least as non skid as the surrounding concrete or asphalt.

Basically, after some initial prep, Vanguard installers fill the void with their proprietary liquid plastic “FailSafe” materials, allow to cure for a short period, then cover with a similar but thinner liquid plastic material to create the permanent non skid effect, then add Vanguards standard detectable warning product right on top, that according to Mr. Julnes “lasts 15 – 20+ years."

The folks at Vanguard state this repair will last at least as long as any Vanguard installation and probably longer, but one thing’s for sure says Julnes, “we can repair these ramps for about half what they’ve been paying, and they won’t have any more problems with their detectable warning surfaces ever again."

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