High-Rise Security: New Concerns

Dec. 30, 2010
It’s a fearsome new world, and high-rise building security is changing to keep pace. The recently released third edition of High-Rise Security and Fire Life Safety by Geoff Craighead catalogs a host of new issues for building security directors and property managers to think about.

It’s a fearsome new world, and high-rise building security is changing to keep pace. The recently released third edition of High-Rise Security and Fire Life Safety by Geoff Craighead catalogs a host of new issues for building security directors and property managers to think about.

Craighead is a vice president with the Santa Ana, CA-based security services firm Universal Protection Service and co-chair of the BOMA Greater Los Angeles Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee. A Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Board Certified in Security Management, Craighead is also certified by the Los Angeles City Fire Department to provide high-rise life safety services.

The standard text on high-rise security since 1995 when the first edition came out, the third edition updates and adds new material about best practices in high-rise office, hotel, mixed-use and residential building security.

It isn’t a book to sit down and read — unless you are new to security and want a textbook survey of the profession. Instead, it is a book to go to with questions. It provides a solid foundation about any and all security and fire safety subjects.

Want to study up on access control or video? Take a look at Chapter 5, “Building Security Systems and Equipment.” Chapter 6 covers fire life safety systems. See Chapter 14 for a survey of laws, codes, standards and guidelines.

What’s New in High-Rise Security?
Some things haven’t changed from past editions of High-Rise Security. Chapters 1 and 2, for instance, have retained discussions of the development and use of high-rise buildings and their unique security and fire safety challenges.

Then again, a lot has changed.

Sadly — or frighteningly — Chapter 3, “Security and Fire Life Safety Threats,” lays out what building security directors and property managers must worry about today. In addition to the age-old threats of fire, medical emergencies, natural disasters, power outages and slip and falls, today’s security concerns include a stunning list of new threats based on recent history: aircraft collisions; bombs and bomb threats; and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

“I took a look at the new threats that have arisen since 9/11,” Craighead says. “My goal was to lay out the lessons that can be taken from these events.”

The chapter reviews 18 terrorist attacks on high-rise buildings beginning with the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and moving through the armed assault on two hotels in Mumbai, India in 2008.  

Don’t misunderstand. The material isn’t alarmist, but it is a sobering reminder that high-rise building security strategies must today include assessments of a number of terrorist threats.

To that point, Chapter 4, “Risk Assessments,” includes a new section about assessing the risk of a terrorist attack against a high-rise building. It is based on a Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) guide entitled “Risk Assessment: A How-To guide to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks against Buildings. 

Building Security Systems and Equipment,” chapter 5, covers traditional access control, intrusion detection and video technologies, while adding discussions of new developments such as asset tracking systems, the convergence of information technology and security technology, Internet protocol cameras and remote video monitoring, optical turnstiles, video analytics, virtual video patrols, and more.

Chapter 6, “Building Fire Life Safety Systems and Equipment,” adds a discussion of elevators and emergency evacuations. “Traditionally, of course, elevators are automatically recalled during an emergency,” Craighead says. “On 9/11, however, 3,000 people got out of the second tower using the high-speed elevators. This has led to discussions of allowing elevators to continue to operate unless smoke from a fire intrudes into the vestibule, shaft, or elevator car. These discussions are still preliminary, however. The idea will take years to work its way into practice.”

Chapters 9 through 12 contain more than 100 pages of new material covering security issues unique to different kinds of high-rise buildings: office, hotel, mixed-use and residential.

“I tried to do this in a methodical way, braking out occupancy characteristics; threats, vulnerabilities and countermeasures; and security programs for each kind of property,” Craighead says.

The book also includes a CD loaded with useful materials:

  • Physical Security Survey Checklist
  • Fire Prevention Survey Checklist
  • Security Checklist for Tenants
  • Outline for an Emergency Procedures Manual
  • Calendar for Security and Fire Safety Training for tenants, security departments and building staff
  • Links to Internet sites useful in developing security and fire life safety plans

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