Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
4/23/2024

Article 4. Construction Requirements

6VAC15-81-920. Building systems - general.

A. The requirements set forth in this article establish the requirements for building materials, equipment, and systems to be designed and constructed in facilities within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

B. The building components and design criteria denoted in this article are intended to relate the facilities' security and custody level and expected use conditions, with the materials, equipment, and systems expected performance, particularly as related to strength, safety, and durability characteristics.

C. Matching the performance levels of the various components which make up a security enclosure or system is of equal importance. They shall be comparable and compatible.

D. All work shall be done in accordance with acceptable design and construction practices and material shall be installed in accordance with manufacturer recommendations or as otherwise noted.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-930. Structural systems - walls, floors, roofs, ceilings.

A. Wall systems - general. Walls encompassing areas occupied by inmates shall provide a secure barrier for their entire height and length, both horizontally and vertically, to prevent unauthorized ingress or egress. Security walls shall provide continuity at adjacent security walls, horizontal security barriers or the secure perimeter. The joints and voids between secure walls and horizontal security barrier shall be protected with materials of security level equivalent to the remainder of the wall.

1. Security walls.

a. Security perimeter walls shall be of masonry, concrete, steel, or other approved noncombustible building material and shall comply with ASTM F2322 testing method Grade 1 to a minimum of 1,000 blow counts.

b. Interior security walls shall be of masonry, concrete, steel, or other approved noncombustible building material and shall comply with ASTM F2322 Grade 1. Security shall be maintained for the entire height of the wall and integrated with the next horizontal security barrier.

c. Security walls may be of the following materials and construction:

(1) Concrete masonry units with block cores filled solid with 3,000 psi grout in accordance with ASTM C476. All masonry mortar shall be a minimum of 2,500 psi compressive strength and comply with ASTM C270.

(a) Security perimeter walls shall have vertical #4 reinforcing rods in every masonry core spaced eight inches on center maximum. Every masonry core shall be grout filled.

(b) Interior security walls shall have vertical #4 reinforcing rods in every other masonry core spaced 16 inches on center maximum. Every masonry core shall be grout filled.

(2) Concrete walls may be cast in place or precast reinforced high-strength concrete panel. Walls shall be a minimum of 4,000 psi compressive strength (28-day break). Minimum thickness of solid core concrete shall be four inches. Refer to the Prestressed/Precast Concrete Institute to calculate the equivalent thickness of hollow core concrete panels. Hollow core plank shall not be used for security walls.

(3) Steel wall assemblies shall meet ASTM F2322 testing requirements Grade 1 or better and shall be coated with a zinc-iron-alloy (galvanneal) coating meeting ASTM A653, Commercial Steel (CS), coating designation A60 (Z180) designation or better. Walls shall be securely anchored to structural slabs in floor, adjacent security walls, and horizontal security barrier.

(4) Bar grille security walls shall be 2-1/4 inches by 3/8-inch steel flat bar frame with vertical 7/8-inch round double ribbed bars spaced five inches or less on center with 2-1/4 inches by 3/8-inch horizontal steel bars approximately 16 inches on center. Bar grille shall be securely anchored to adjacent security walls and horizontal security barriers.

(5) Woven rod security walls shall be fabricated from 3/8-inch diameter mild steel rods spaced not more than two inches on center in two directions, interwoven, and crimp-locked. Rods shall be anchored securely into a heavy gage (10-gage minimum) tubular steel frame or structural equivalent flat steel bar or channel. Frame shall be securely anchored to adjacent security walls and horizontal security barriers.

(6) Nonload bearing walls in inmate housing units less than 12 feet high shall have 12-gage steel continuous angles between overhead horizontal structural members on both sides. Voids located at the top of the wall shall be sealed with concrete masonry units grouted solid, solid concrete masonry units, or 3/16-inch metal plate. Walls in excess of 12 feet shall be stabilized but may use clip angles in lieu of continuous angles.

2. Wall penetrations.

a. Access doors or panels shall be the same security grade as the wall in which they are installed.

b. Access doors or panels to access building systems and equipment shall be a minimum of two-feet by two-feet.

c. Consideration shall be given to designing mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and security electronics systems to minimize access doors or panels in walls.

d. Ceiling access panels or doors within the secure perimeter shall be provided with panels and locks equivalent to the security level of the ceiling in which it is used.

e. Consideration shall be given to locating balancing dampers close to or integral with diffusers so they can be adjusted and checked without the installation of access panels.

f. Any opening behind a toilet fixture shall be protected in accordance with the requirements of the wall where it is installed.

3. Interior partitions within the secure perimeter.

a. Interior partitions shall be constructed of a minimum of six-inch concrete masonry units or equivalent.

b. Mortar utilized when the wall is of masonry unit construction shall be a minimum of 2000 psi compressive strength.

c. Openings in interior partitions.

(1) Doors and frames shall be a minimum of 1-3/4 inches thick commercial grade hollow metal with a minimum 16-gage door and 14-gage frame.

(2) Door hardware shall be a minimum of commercial grade.

(3) Windows shall have security glazing or tempered glass in accordance with 6VAC15-81-970.

B. Floor systems.

1. Floor systems within and including the secure perimeter shall be one of the following:

a. A poured-in-place concrete slab on grade with a minimum thickness of four inches and not less than continuous six-inch by six-inch by 10-gage embedded welded wire fabric reinforcing or equivalent.

b. Hollow core concrete plank system providing a minimum equivalent concrete thickness of:

(1) Three inches if cores are oval or round; or

(2) Four inches if cores are square or rectangular.

For purposes of calculating equivalent thickness for security, topping is not included.

c. Precast concrete tees providing a minimum equivalent concrete thickness of four inches at the flange. If topping is used, it shall be a normal weight concrete of a minimum of two inches thick and provide adequate cover for #4 rebar eight-inch on center in one direction or W4 welded wire mesh six-inch on center in both directions.

2. Floors in six-sided steel cells and six-sided precast concrete cells shall be tested in accordance with ASTM F2697 testing requirements Grade 1 to a minimum of 1,000 blows for horizontal assemblies.

C. Roof and ceiling systems.

1. Upper secure perimeter shall consist of a roof or ceiling as follows:

a. Roofs. The roof construction or uppermost secure perimeter shall be one of the following:

(1) A minimum of four inch standard weight concrete with a minimum strength of 3000 psi. Reinforcing shall consist of not less than continuous six-inch by six-inch by 10-gage embedded welded wire fabric reinforcing.

(2) Precast concrete plank or panels providing a minimum total concrete thickness of four inches.

(3) Hollow core concrete plank providing a minimum equivalent concrete thickness of:

(a) Three inches if cores are oval or round; or

(b) Four inches if cores are square or rectangular.

For purposes of calculating equivalent thickness for security, topping is not included.

(4) Three-inch standard weight concrete with a minimum strength of 3000 psi on 16 gage steel form (or decking) on concrete or steel support members.

(5) Three-inch standard weight concrete with a minimum strength of 3,000 psi with six-inch by six-inch by 10-gage wire fabric on a 22-gage steel form (or decking) on concrete or steel supporting members.

(6) Precast concrete tees providing a minimum equivalent concrete thickness of four inches. If topping is used, it shall be a normal weight concrete of a minimum of two inches thick and provide adequate cover for #4 rebar eight-inch on center in one direction or W4 welded wire mesh six-inch on center in both directions.

b. Ceilings. A ceiling used for the uppermost horizontal secure perimeter is acceptable if tested in accordance with ASTM F2697 testing requirements to a minimum of 1,000 blows.

2. Interior ceilings. Ceilings within the secure perimeter, but not serving as the secure perimeter, shall have or exceed the level of protection specified in the table in this subdivision.

Ceiling Location (within the secure perimeter):

Minimum ceiling height per min. clear ht.2

Security steel systems as approved by reviewing authority

Security gypsum board6,7

CWFAM with hold-down clips3

Gypsum board - single layer

Lay-in ACT with hold-down clips4

Exposed structure not requiring a ceiling1,2

Corridor in housing unit

10'

X

15'

Corridors in other than housing unit

8'

X

15'

Personnel sally port

8'

X

10'

Vehicular sally port

15'

15'

Inmate toilet

9'

X

Staff toilet

8'

X

Janitorial closet

8'

X

10'

Mechanical/electrical/maintenance rooms

9'

9'

Security electronics room5

9'

9'

Storage room

8'

X

15'

Office areas

8'

X

Tool rooms

8'

8'

Control room5

8'

X

Intake/booking/processing

9'

X

15'

Cells

7'6"

X

GP dayrooms-single level:

10'

X

15'

GP dayrooms-two level:

Perimeter ceiling areas above the tier walkway to a point 6'0" from the edge of tier railing

8'

X

Center part of dayroom ceilings, starting at 6'0" minimum horizontally from edge of tier railing

15'-AFF of dayroom

X

15'

Cells

7'6"

X

Dormitories

10'

X

15'

Inmate toilet areas9

9'

X

Inmate showers9

7'6"

Kitchen9

9'

X

Staff dining room

9'

X

Food storage

10'

X

12'

Laundry

10'

X

12'

Vocational shops

9'

X

12'

Indoor recreation main recreation

18'

18'

Classrooms, library, multipurpose and other similar spaces

10'

X

Visiting:

Contact visiting room

9'

X

Inmate search

9'

X

Noncontact visiting

9'

X

Medical:

Waiting rooms

9'

X

Exam rooms & treatment areas

9'

X

Medical offices, records

9'

X

Pharmacy5

9'

Warehouse

12'

Canteen

9'

X

12'

Property storage

12'

Ceiling Location

(outside the secure perimeter):

Armory5

9'

Community Custody

Corridor - community custody8

8'

X

12'

Community custody housing

10'

X

15'

Community custody entry/processing8

9'

X

12'

Multipurpose spaces

10'

X

12'

1Minimum clear height that does not require a ceiling. Clear height means distance from the floor to the ceiling or roof or lowest hanging or suspended utilities or fixture.

2Minimum clear height to lowest structure, ceiling panel, utility or fixture.

3Hold-down clips on cementitious wood fiber acoustical material (CWFAM) shall be equivalent to hurricane strength clips secured with screws.

4Hold-down clips on lay-in ceiling must not release under upward pressure without breaking or hold dislodging of panels without damage to the panels.

5Walls shall go up to floor or ceiling above or the area has a security cap.

6Security gypsum ceiling shall be constructed in accordance with the following: two layers of 5/8-inch gypsum wall board with 0.66 pounds per square foot, on 1/2-inch by 13-gage or 3/4-inch by nine-gage diamond mesh metal lath, per ASTM F1267, Type I or Type II securely fastened to the structure or structural supports.

7Cement plaster ceilings of not less than three-coat Portland cement plaster installed on approved heavy metal lath may be used in these locations.

8No hold-down clips are required.

9Moisture resistant material appropriate to wet locations shall be used.

3. Secure ceilings shall be provided in other areas where inmates are unsupervised.

4. Consideration shall be given to ensure that adequate space (a minimum of eight inches) is provided between the ceiling (including recessed lighting fixtures) and above ceiling building systems (e.g., duct, conduit, wiring, piping, tubing, structure, etc.) to allow for installation of the ceiling at the specified height.

5. Ceilings over showers and toilets shall be equivalent to security requirements of space in which it is located.

6. Security capping.

a. Any space surrounded by interior security walls that does not extend to a secure floor or roof structure above or uppermost horizontal secure perimeter shall be capped to comply with a material or assembly meeting the requirements of ASTM F2322 testing method to Grade 1 or with four inches of concrete or equivalent. This includes cells, control rooms, sally ports, and armories.

b. Open spaces above areas required to be security capped shall be protected to eliminate blind spots or access for hiding.

7. All penetrations of the uppermost secure perimeter shall be protected by maximum security opening protectives equivalent to types specified in 6VAC15-81-940, 6VAC15-81-950, and 6VAC15-81-960. Where operable, opening protective shall be equipped with maximum security locks in accordance with 6VAC15-81-950.

8. Access openings.

a. Consideration shall be given to designing mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and security electronics systems to minimize access doors or panels in ceilings.

b. Protection of openings shall be the same security grade as the ceiling in which it is installed.

c. All access openings to the space above security ceilings shall be protected by hinged metal access panels or doors equipped with keyed locks.

d. Access doors or panels to access building systems and equipment shall be a minimum of two-feet by two-feet.

e. Ceiling access panels or doors within the secure perimeter shall be independently and securely supported to prevent vertical displacement.

f. Consideration shall be given to locating balancing dampers close to or integral with diffusers so they can be adjusted and checked without the installation of access panels.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-940. Doors and frames - security and nonsecurity.

A. Security doors used where perimeter security and interior security walls are required shall be one of the following:

1. Hollow metal security doors shall meet the requirements of ASTM F1450 as follows:

a. Maximum security and perimeter security doors shall be ASTM Grade 1.

b. Doors in interior security walls and associated with medium security housing shall be ASTM Grade 2 or better.

c. Minimum security doors shall be ASTM Grade 3 or better, except doors shall be ASTM Grade 2 or better if in interior security walls.

2. Bar grille doors shall include double ribbed steel bars measuring 7/8-inch diameter at five inches on center with flat steel crossbars measuring 3/8-inch by 2-1/4 inches at 18 inches on center with punched holes for ribbed bars at five inches on center. Door frames shall be installed in accordance with Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) 863 and ASTM F1450.

3. Woven rod door.

a. Woven rod door frames shall be constructed of tubular shaped 12-gage steel channel or 3/16-inch right-angle bent steel plate, punched to receive woven rods.

b. The cap channel shall be 12-gage steel plate.

c. The woven rod door mesh shall be 3/8-inch in diameter steel rod woven at two inches on center each way and double crimped.

d. Welds shall be placed a minimum on every other rod where it cannot be accessed by the inmate.

e. The frame shall be mounted into a 10-gage formed steel channel, expansion anchored to the wall, and field welded to the mount channel.

f. Door frames shall be installed in accordance with HMMA 863 and ASTM F1450.

4. Access opening protection.

a. Access panels, doors, frames, locks, and hardware shall at a minimum be equivalent to the security level of the wall, roof, or floor where they are installed.

b. Steel plate doors may be used as an alternate. If used, access doors or panels shall meet the following requirements:

(1) Shall be a minimum of 3/16-inch thick plate steel.

(2) Shall have minimum of 3/16-inch bent steel plate or equivalent rolled steel shape door frame. Each jamb for security access openings shall be anchored with wall anchors not to exceed 18 inches on center with a minimum of two wall anchors per jamb.

(3) Frame and bracing shall be sufficient to prevent the door or panels from flexing or warping from abuse.

B. Nonsecurity doors shall be steel commercial grade minimum 1-3/4 inches thick hollow metal doors with 16-gage face sheets with rigid inner core. Frames shall be commercial grade 14-gage hollow metal or equal.

C. Solid core wood doors are an acceptable alternative as a nonsecurity door in walls designated as nonsecure.

D. Additional features.

1. Where doors and hardware are required by the building code to be fire-rated construction, such construction shall not reduce or compromise the security requirements or present a hindrance to emergency evacuation.

2. Security frames shall be completely filled with 3,000 psi fine grout meeting the requirements of ASTM C476.

3. Doors for any room utilized by inmates shall open out away from the inmate occupied side.

4. Doors in inmate occupied areas shall not have loop pulls on the inside of the door. Finger pulls are recommended in those locations.

5. Passproof thresholds shall be installed at doors to prevent passing of contraband between housing units.

6. Sliding doors, door mechanisms, and food passes shall be oriented and installed to minimize inmate interference with door operation.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-950. Locks and locking systems.

A. Security level. Locks shall meet the requirements of ASTM F1577 for swinging doors and ASTM F1643 for sliding doors. Locks on perimeter security doors and maximum security doors shall be Security Grade 1. Locks in interior security walls shall be Security Grade 2 or better. Locks in interior security partitions shall be Security Grade 3 or better.

B. Locking devices. Where a high degree of security and positive door control is required in cells, dayrooms, and corridors, sliding door locking devices capable of being operated from a control room are recommended.

C. Magnetic and electromagnetic locks shall not be used as security locks.

D. Controls shall be provided to operate the locks and locking devices in the required modes.

1. The switches, relays, and other devices shall make up a control system compatible with the locks and locking devices and shall be capable of providing the switching necessary to satisfy all desired operational modes.

2. A master control console or panel shall be designed to display all switches to the operator. Normally installed in a secure room (i.e., officer control room) the console shall be equipped with a control for each door, a group control for each wing of the building (or cell block), and controls for the corridor and sally port doors that control access to those wings.

3. In housing control stations and control rooms, door controls shall release cell doors individually, as a group, and as emergency release.

4. Housing control stations and control rooms shall have a local and remote power cutoff and the ability to transfer operation to the master control room.

5. Control panels shall have position, lock, and roller bolt or locking bar indication for security gates and doors.

6. In the event of a power failure the locking system shall be fail secure.

7. Emergency release provisions shall be made for unlocking or group-release of cell doors in case of fire, power failure, or other emergencies.

a. Standby power from a generator is required.

b. Other forms of emergency release shall be reviewed and approved by the reviewing authority.

E. Master keying shall be provided for all security locks. Master keying shall utilize a minimum of two keys so that no one key can be used to get from any point in the facility through multiple doors to the outside of the facility. All secure perimeter doors shall be keyed separately from interior doors.

F. Locks on inmate toilet room doors, with the exception of within housing units, shall be lockable from the outside but not lockable from the inside.

G. Within housing units, locking shall be as follows:

1. Inmate showers and toilet rooms with full height doors shall be staff lockable from the outside but shall not be capable of being locked or latched from the inside.

2. Inmate showers and toilet rooms with partial height doors may be latched from the inside.

H. Staff toilets shall be key locked from the outside and thumb turn operable or not lockable from the inside.

I. Plumbing chases shall not be lockable from the inside.

J. Sally ports interlocking requirements.

1. Sally port doors shall be interlocked in a manner that only one sally port door or gate shall be openable at a time under normal operation. All sally port doors or gates shall be installed so they are confirmed to be locked by mechanical or electronic means prior to the opening of any other door or gate. Sally port locking and unlocking shall be remotely controlled from a secure control room.

2. Vehicular sally port gates or doors shall be capable of being operated and locked from a remote location with provisions for manual operation and locking when power is off or in the event of emergency action.

3. Vehicular sally port doors shall be a minimum of 12 feet high.

4. Rollup and bifold doors in vehicular sally ports, warehouse, and loading docks are not considered security doors.

5. Cell door release shall be separate from housing unit entry door release locking.

6. Doors between adjacent housing units shall not be interlocked with sally ports.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-960. Window frames.

A. Performance requirements and criteria for the selection and intended use of windows shall include the following considerations: security, natural lighting, ventilation, and weather protection.

B. Security requirements.

1. Security frames shall have 1-1/4-inch glazing stops with a one-inch bite and be secured with security screws on the non-inmate side.

2. Security frames shall be completely filled with 3,000 psi fine grout meeting the requirements of ASTM C476.

3. Windows shall have security glazing in accordance with 6VAC15-81-970.

4. Where necessary because of field conditions in renovations or replacements, field fabricated security windows shall have a minimum 14-gage window frame and be approved by the reviewing authority.

C. Secure perimeter. Windows frames that are to be installed in the building perimeter security (exterior and interior walls and clearstory/skylight assemblies) shall meet the requirements of ASTM F1592 Grade 1 or better.

D. Interior security.

1. Maximum security window frames shall be Security Grade 1 or better.

2. Window frames in other interior security walls shall be Security Grade 2 or better.

E. Non-security windows may be provided in an exterior security wall to provide a noninstitutional appearance. When such windows are used, however, the window opening shall be protected on the interior side of the opening by a steel bar grille or woven rod with security frame comparable to the security assemblies described in this section.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-970. Security glazing.

A. When selecting glazing, consideration shall be given to ballistic attack, whether penetration of glazing would compromise security or allow passage of contraband, degree of staff supervision or surveillance, and anticipated amount of vandalism.

1. Glazing security grade level shall be in accordance with ASTM F1915.

2. Bullet resistant glazing shall meet ballistics requirements of ASTM F1233 for weapons capable of concealment and UL 752 Level III, super power small arms. This glazing shall be low spalling or no spalling.

B. The level of glazing resistance to penetration or ballistic attack shall be consistent with the security level of walls and other building components in which it is located.

1. Where openings exceed five inches in one direction and are not protected by bar grille or woven rod:

a. Glazing in maximum security walls and doors shall be Security Grade 1 or better.

b. Glazing in interior security walls and doors shall be Security Grade 2 or better.

c. Glazing in interior partitions inside the secure perimeter shall be Security Grade 4 or better.

2. Glazing in control rooms shall be:

a. Security Grade 1 in master control room.

b. Security Grade 1 and bullet resistant where glazing separates a control room from a public area.

c. Security Grade 2 or better for other control rooms.

3. Glazing associated with visitation or magistrate areas that form a part of the secure perimeter shall be one of the following:

a. Security Grade 1 glazing with bar grille or woven rod.

b. Security Grade 1 glazing and bullet resistant.

c. Glazing in visitation between the public and inmate may be Security Grade 1 glazing supplemented by an additional secure perimeter wall with sally port enclosing the public side of the visitation area.

4. Security glazing panels shall be no larger than 36 inches by 48 inches unless located a minimum of seven feet above floor level.

5. Glazing security grade may be reduced one level if lowest portion of glazing is 12 feet above adjacent floor level.

6. Tempered or insulated glass or both may be used in openings five inches or less in one direction unless bullet resistant or contraband resistance is required, in which case glazing rated for such shall be used.

7. Glass security glazing or glass clad security glazing shall not be used unless required for fire rating or unless approved by the reviewing authority on a case by case basis for specific locations.

8. Plate glass, float glass, and other conventional glass other than wire or tempered glass shall not be used in any openings located within the secure perimeter or in any interior security walls, interior partitions, doors, or other openings within the area enclosed by the secure perimeter. Wire glass may only be used where required for fire rating purposes.

9. Tempered glass, if used, shall meet the requirements of (American National Standards Institute) ANSI Z97.1 Class A safety test or Consumer Products Safety Commission Category II safety test.

10. Where bar grille or woven rod is required to be used for windows, it shall be similar in design and constructed in accordance with bar grille or woven rod indicated in 6VAC15-81-930.

11. Where the frame or frame and mullions provide the security for the window opening, the maximum clear dimension of the opening shall be no more than five inches in one direction.

12. All openings, such as windows, louvers, clearstories, and skylights, penetrating the secure perimeter walls, floors, or roof shall be protected by bar grille or woven rod partitions constructed as required by subdivisions A 1 c (4) and A 1 c (5) of 6VAC15-81-930 when they are larger than:

a. Eight inches by eight inches; or

b. Five inches in one direction if the other dimension is larger than eight inches.

Exception: Glazed areas protected and located in accordance with subdivision 3 of this subsection.

13. To avoid tampering, removable glazing stops shall be applied, wherever possible, on the side opposite the inmate occupied area. Where stops are placed in an inmate area, they shall be secured with an ample number of strong, properly installed, tamper resistant fasteners of design required by 6VAC15-81-930 or approved by the reviewing authority. Junctions of horizontal and vertical glazing stops on the inmate side shall be welded to prevent removal of portions of stop members.

14. Exterior windows in security areas in new construction shall be fixed. Exception: In renovations where windows are operable, exterior windows in security areas that are capable of being opened shall have additional protection of heavy duty stainless steel, security wire contraband, and insect screen.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

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