5 Tips for Door Security

Feb. 25, 2014
How to maintain egress integrity.

The humble door lock – a security measure that's so run-of-the-mill it can become your greatest vulnerability. All it takes is a piece of broken hardware or a door propped open to let someone slip in unchallenged. One of the best ways you can harden your facility is to concentrate on egress integrity.

1) Define Public vs. Private
If there are separate doors for staff and customers, make sure the entrances are appropriately marked and secured.

"Doors that are open for employee use should be locked at all times, monitored by access control and, in some instances, have tailgate detection," recommends Ken Kuehler, director of sales and marketing for Detex, a manufacturer of door security hardware.

2) Schedule Door Maintenance
You perform predictive maintenance on your other building systems – make sure your doors receive the same attention.

"Check the integrity of locks and doors every month and prioritize replacements," says Pizzitola. "I can't stress how many times I find doors with broken locks and building owners admit they've been compromised for months."

Routine inspections are key as you may find that your own occupants are defeating the hardware, particularly if they're looking for a covert smoking area or a "personal" back entrance.

"Evaluate the integrity of panic bars on interior doors," Pizzitola advises. "If the model has a screw set, a person can easily take an Allen wrench and lock down the system so the door can be opened from the outside."

3) Add Alarms
Door alarms provide immediate notification of an incident and are easily integrated into a building's exiting security.

"Hardwired alarms sound an alert when the door is opened and can send a signal to a security office and cameras. The use of local indicator panels at floor staff locations may also be used to monitor openings that are not in the line of sight," adds Kuehler.

4) Balance Life Safety
Before you tackle any retrofits, make sure they comply with local safety and NFPA codes.

"Communicating with your local authority having jurisdiction can save you from errors that could entail expensive re-working of doors or complete door replacement," Kuehler cautions.

For example, NFPA 101 stipulates that all doors must have unobstructed exit access. The code states "locks shall not require the use of a key, tool, special knowledge, or effort for operation from the inside of the building."

Say you want to fortify a room against an outside threat so occupants can shelter in place. To comply with NFPA and avoid the risk of people getting trapped, however, any interior lock you install must allow people to exit the room freely.

5) Install Surveillance
Beyond access control, consider a well-placed security camera. Live surveillance is one option, but you may not have the bandwidth or manpower to monitor a continuous feed.

Use analytics or software controls to trigger the camera to start recording and send a signal to security or office staff, says Kuehler. These can include motion detection, the swipe of an access badge, or switches in exit devices.

About the Author

Jennie Morton

A former BUILDINGS editor, Jennie Morton is a freelance writer specializing in commercial architecture, IoT and proptech.

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