Interrogate The Integration Expert

Oct. 27, 2008

Q: I am providing a security upgrade for a preschool, any recommendations?

A: Conduct a survey of the premises and interview responsible parties associated with the facility for insight into what they hope to achieve with the upgrade. Have the client set a budget figure up front.

I recently consulted for an alarm dealer who had limited experience with system integration, locking hardware or dealing with AHJs. It just so happened to be a preschool. The school operates in the basement of a sprawling church building and serves about 40 children. There is essentially one long corridor that allows access to classrooms and a library area. The exterior shared door had an exit device with key-actuated outside trim.

The reason for the upgrade was due to having to care for several children whose parents were involved in contested divorces involving custody of the children, combined with recent headlines of violence directed towards schools and day cares. The recommendations are as follows:

1. A four-camera surveillance system—with one outsider camera, a monitor and a quad processor. The monitor would be in the director’s office. Additional cameras and the ability for parents to view their kids from offsite over the Internet could be a future upgrade option. For now, it was important to see who was outside the building and be able to monitor activity near all the perimeter doors.

2. Door intercom stations at the exterior door and the primary entry door into the preschool area are specified. The intercom base station would be located in the director’s office, giving the ability to remotely release either door. By placing additional intercom stations in each classroom, the intercom base station would also provide the ability for the director to perform an emergency All Call for immediate notification to all classrooms.

3. The three stairwell doors had EXIT signs above them. One of the doors was in-swinging. They all were in violation of current building codes by not being equipped with panic bars or positive latching hardware. These doors also created a security issue because they could not be locked to prevent unauthorized access. Therefore panic bars with keyed outside trim were indicated for these doors. The building already had a KNOX Box (a metal key storage box required by many fire departments to enable them to gain emergency access into structures); therefore, the new panic bars would be keyed to the building’s master key system. The swing on that one in swinging stairwell door would be reversed.

4. The exterior door would be retrofitted with a rim strike and entry keypad capable of managing 100 user codes. The main entry door into the preschool would get the same setup only in this case it would not be a retrofit of the rim strike since it was a new panic bar installation.

5. Motion sensors: one on the exterior of the main door and three more adjacent to the other doors. The exterior door motion sensor would trigger a full screen view on the quad and alert the director that someone was there. The motion sensors on the other three doors would alert the director that someone was near an exit door. The three motion sensors could also be connected to audible devices or be used as a basis for an intrusion system.

6. Battery operated door alarms where included to provide annunciation if a door were opened.

Security Dealer Technical EDITOR TIM O’LEARY is a 35-year veteran in the security industry and a 12-year contributor to the magazine. O’Leary’s background encompasses having been a security consultant since 1986 and an independent security company owner/operator, in addition to his research and evaluation of new technologies and products introduced to the physical and electronic security fields. He is a member of the VBFAA (Virginia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association); certified for Electronic Security Technician and Sales by the VADCJS (Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services); and has served as a judge for the SIA New Product Showcase. Send your integration questions to [email protected]