The goal of an effective security program is to prevent vandalism, reduce the risk of personal violence, prevent direct or collateral damage to assets and facilities, preserve a safe and secure environment while limiting liability, and lower repair and maintenance costs. With the proper equipment it is possible to achieve all these things.
A door opening should be seen as a complete security system that needs to work harmoniously and effectively. Neglecting any individual part will create a weak link in the overall security of an opening, and thus the entire facility.
It's important to consider the effects of each part of a door opening in order to create the most effective and secure opening. From a door frame to the door and hardware to the access-control system, every decision affects the ultimate performance of an opening.
It takes more than just a door to close an opening. The combination of door, frame and hardware should be viewed as a complete system.
Although frames also are available in wood and aluminum, hollow metal usually is specified where increased strength and durability are required. Security and life safety are other reasons a school may select hollow metal. Hollow metal frames provide a high degree of rigidity for these applications, and their construction makes it easier to install the electrified hardware that provide life-safety and security functions.
Although some hollow frames are assembled and welded together before delivery to a jobsite, others are assembled at the jobsite. Their hollow metal construction and design make it easy to accommodate the wiring for electric strikes, monitors or power transfers through the door to the locking mechanism.
If an opening requires strength, durability or maximum fire resistance, hollow doors and frames can meet these needs.
In the hardware
The next consideration is the door hardware. This includes key systems; trim; lever trim for exit devices; exit devices such as panic bars, door closers, latch guards and surface bolts; and floor and wall stops.
Some critical hardware considerations:
- Key systems
Campuses still using mechanical keys should make sure that their systems prevent unauthorized duplication. Some key systems restrict key blanks, cut keys and cores by furnishing them only through authorized distributors or service centers.
Mortise locks that are mortised into the door provide a higher level of protection in high-traffic areas and in areas where vandalism is likely. Locks with this type of trim resist forced entry because there is no exposed trim on the exterior of the door for vandals to kick or break.
- Lever trim for exit devices
Breakaway lever trim for exit devices significantly reduces damage from vandalism and abuse, while meeting accessibility standards. When unlocked, the trim functions as a standard-level trim. Such trim, when locked, feels locked until 35 pounds of pressure is applied. Then the lever appears to “break away” and travels 90 degrees down, seemingly broken. Maintenance personnel then can reset the lever to its normal, locked position. This breakaway technology prevents the lock mechanism from being damaged by excessive force.
- Exit devices
Exit devices are designed to look good and offer high performance. They work with both narrow- and wide-style doors, and can be equipped with a fluid damper that decelerates the push pad on its return stroke for a smooth, quiet operation.
- Door closers
For high security, door closers should be made of heavy-duty, cast-iron cylinders, tamper-resistant screws, heavy-gauge steel covers with multiple attachment joints, and arm joints that are pinned to prevent disassembly. Such closers are mandatory for abuse-prone and high-traffic doors.
- Vandal-resistant trim
In areas prone to vandalism, trim should be made of 11-gauge steel at a minimum. Look for thru-bolt and rugged mounting screws to provide maximum fastening strength. A built-in lock protector will prevent vandalism to the mortise latchbolt, and a stainless-steel collar can prevent pipe wrenches or similar implements from damaging the cylinder.
- Latch guards
Latch guards cover the latchbolt area of the door and lock, and provide added protection from vandalism. Such guards incorporate security frame pins that prevent separation of the door and frame. They offer protection for mortise or cylinder locks where abuse or vandalism is likely to occur.
- Surface bolts
Heavy-duty surface bolts provide a jimmy-resistant design that bolts automatically when engaged and can be released only by pressing down toward the door while retracting.
- Security floor and wall stops
Security door stops are designed for high-vandalism areas. They are molded from flame-resistant, resilient material around a heavy-duty stud. Stops are best used for concrete floor or wall applications and leave no exposed fasteners to be tampered with or removed.
Choosing a system
The three main components of an access-control system are controlling who is authorized to go where and when. When the components of a door opening work together smoothly, they can prevent vandalism in every access point on a campus.
Electronic access-control solutions should be able to accommodate a broad range of credentials such as electronic keys, magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, and smart cards or biometric devices, including hand and fingerprint readers.
Many solutions are available for all levels of access control — from highly restricted areas such as a laboratory or computer room to less-restricted areas such as storage rooms.
More sophisticated access-control systems enable schools and universities to define access for anyone at any time, on any or all days. Auto-unlock and auto-lock capabilities allow campuses to program an electronic locking system to lock and unlock any door at any time. Such locking systems can include vandal-resistant trims; keyed systems; standalone, computer-managed, battery-powered, wireless locks; and software that links together all computer-managed components.
Vigue, AHC/CDC, is vice president of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Educational Vertical Market, Carmel, Ind.
Minimum gauge of steel door trim recommended in areas prone to vandalism.