Hard Security

Perimeter security from barriers and bollards to turnstiles and door hardware


Walls can be designed to provide deterrence and delay to a protected area. There are many types of walls. Unless you are a member of the building design team, in most cases you are left with the walls designed for the original building purpose. Walls are commonly made of concrete, reinforced concrete or concrete block, while some older buildings still have cinder blocks, metal, wood, and composite materials. Walls are a barrier but, the type of construction can require enhancements to secure the assets or materials being protected. A general rule is the thickness and material of the wall construction will determine the resistance to penetration. Always consider the walls in the collective information gathered when evaluating the security of a facility.

Doors are the gateway to your assets. Skimping on the design, framing and material quality determines the effectiveness of your doors. Doors are designed to allow passage of vehicles and pedestrians.

Selection of the correct door is important. In most cases, the adversary evaluates the doors to a facility over walls or roof access. Most industrial applications receive steel doors and frames for the durability and effectiveness of the product in that type of rough and constant-use environment.

There is an ongoing discussion between those who seek to install a cosmetically pleasing door and those who see the door as an easy location for a security breach. In the case of an explosion, glass doors provide many shards of glass moving through the air with great velocity and add considerably to the potential for serious injury. Obviously, a corporate office building cannot be designed with steel and steel-framed front doors; however, ensuring an adequate standoff distance from glass doors adds to mitigation efforts of a possible explosion.

Doors also create challenges of egress when the door designed to slow unauthorized entry is a fire exit door and must be able to be opened at any time when necessary as an emergency exit. The necessary alarm issues, authorized delay mechanisms and re-closure are issues for another discussion but are worth mentioning so as to not overlook their applications.

Areas to consider when specifying doors are security pins to prohibit an adversary from lifting the door off the hinges. Split-spindle locks allow the door to always be locked on the unprotected side, and to be opened with a key and relock automatically. They allow exit from the protected side, and have a heavy closer to ensure the door is latched when closed.

The common doors for vehicle building entry are corrugated steel roll up doors. These doors provide little deterrence to a determined adversary, but are a good barrier to the opportunist taking advantage of an unclosed or secured door to enter a loading/unloading dock area to see what of interest may be found. The best policy to ensure protection is to enact a policy that doors are only open when there is a truck or trailer backed up to the door for loading/unloading and always closed when there is no one present from the business, such as break times, lunch times and at the end of the day or completion of service to the truck or trailer.

Door Hardware and Windows

Locks are as important as the barriers themselves. Without the proper locking system, all the effort to develop, install and maintain the barriers surrounding it are wasted. The variety of physical and electronic locks is quite varied.

Look for minimum requirements for the application you are dealing with. Go above those minimums in your research for the best locks or system for your needs. Accept the fact that very rarely will one type of lock be applicable to every opening in the facility you are securing.

Windows are another discussion item between security practitioners and design people. Design the facility without first floor windows — it is a great statement if you can get away with it. Normally, that is not going to happen, so how do we attempt to mitigate the openings windows make in securing a facility?

Windows provide a challenge because they are normally glass. Laminating the glass can help a blast from sending shards flying from the window. Wire glass can slow down, but not stop someone determined to make entry. Tempered glass breaks into small pieces. However, no single solution is going to provide the secure window openings we desire.

That does not prevent us from using combinations of materials and additional items to slow down the entry process. Grills or steel mesh can be installed over laminated windows. Screens of galvanized or stainless steel can add to the resistance of the barrier. By sufficiently anchoring the window frame, it will provide additional resistance to entry. Always research codes prior to determining what type of materials to use. Just by looking at windows with security enhancement, the potential adversary may decide to look elsewhere for their next victim.