Critical Access

July 6, 2005
Building a better security booth

Facilities professionals face a vexing problem: How do you protect a building while still ensuring that workers and delivery drivers can access it easily?

Safety can be enhanced by strategically placing economical, pre-assembled buildings in critical access areas. They stand as silent sentries 24/7, and are even more effective during busy periods when staffed by personnel.

Do Your Homework

Increasing security with pre-assembled buildings requires a careful analysis. Consider two critical factors: access points and usage.

Parking lots and building entrances are logical spots to place pre-assembled security buildings, but security professionals will recognize other vulnerable points. Walk the grounds’ perimeter to assess critical access points like fencing or walls.

Elevated buildings on steel mezzanines give security officials unobstructed site lines and provide security in any area or environment where the ground-level view is easily obstructed.

Form Follows Function

A pre-assembled building can be designed and outfitted with numerous options to ensure that its final form does indeed suit its function. Pre-assembled buildings come pre-wired for electrical outlets, data jacks, surveillance cameras, intercom systems, and telephone lines.

In high-security areas and situations, consider adding ballistic-rated materials and glass. Other optional features include bullet-resistant glazing; doors and walls; security screens; steel roll-down shutters; through-wall transaction drawers; speaker and intercom systems; spotlights; and more. Most pre-assembled buildings also can be equipped with gates for access control.

Creature comforts are important if personnel will occupy the buildings for extended periods. Consider heating and cooling systems and tinted windows.

Bathrooms can also be added, with your choice of traditional plumbing that feeds into waste lines, chemical toilets, or electric toilets that incinerate waste. The latter two provide significant savings because the cost of trenching waste lines for traditional plumbing might run anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000.

Standard pre-assembled buildings are functional and less expensive, but manufacturers mirror the look of your main building. Graphics can be added in backlit panels to identify your building and its purpose.

Most pre-assembled buildings come in aluminum or steel. Aluminum withstands extreme environments better, but restricts buildings to a rectangular design. Steel provides design flexibility; the panels can be welded into various shapes (even round ones).

Windows and doors should be de-signed to fit usage. For example, if transactions are required, you can have drawers installed for handling paperwork, half-moon slits, speaker holes, and more. Commercial-grade doors for such transaction booths are typically installed in the rear for added security. For guardhouses or security booths, you may want sliding windows and sliding doors on side entrances so security personnel can easily communicate with (or step out) to greet visitors.

Manufacturers can provide detailed approval drawings. Once you sign off, your pre-assembled building(s) can be delivered in 4 to 6 weeks. Within hours of delivery, your pre-assembled buildings offer added protection while providing access for workers and deliveries.

Gregg Pearlstone is vice president of sales for Porta-King Building Systems (, a St. Louis-based manufacturer of pre-assembled buildings for outdoor and indoor applications.

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