In his years collaborating with school administrators, superintendents, facility managers, security personal, districts, and their security consultants, Total Security Solutions Sales Manager Bob George has found that school security is a matter of balancing security, accessibility, and budget—especially in light of the growing importance of active shooter management.
“Barrier-free” Bullet Resistant Barriers
Schools need to be able to serve every member of their community. The bullet resistant barrier simply cannot create a barrier to any legitimate visitor, regardless of that person’s mobility. A bullet resistant vestibule entryway system with an integrated advanced access control system is a flexible solution ideal for schools. Such systems increase security, deter a wide variety of disruptions (from rowdy students and vandals to armed attackers), and still meet the expectations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and school-specific sections of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) egress codes.
Bob George notes, “Our doors are built with continuous hinges and heavy-duty closers, so their added weight isn’t an issue for younger or less mobile individuals. But we’ve built systems with automatic closers, and even sliding doors to meet accessibility needs. We’re also tuned in to access issues at schools—what with student arrival and dismissal, special events, maintenance crews, teachers and other workers traveling between buildings, and the like. We’ve partnered with access control specialists to seamlessly integrate existing intercoms and Aiphone systems, keycards, and PIN pads. If a school has an access control system that works for them, we can integrate it. If they need to upgrade their access control, we can help them do that, too.”
Designing for Active Shooter Management: Deter and Delay
One of the Department of Homeland Security’s top recommendations for preventative active shooter management is access control. As we’ve mentioned on this blog in the past, the threat landscape for schools—especially rural and suburban schools—continues to evolve, as have have procedures among law enforcement and first responders. In most areas, if an active shooter can be slowed by just 20 seconds, law enforcement will have the time they need to lock down the scene and neutralize the threat.
“We’ve heard it time and again at the Homeland Security conferences,” Bob George explains, “If you can slow down that shooter just 20 to 30 seconds, or make sure the first shot is fired outside the school or in the entryway, that makes a big difference for first responders.”
Managing Costs while Increasing Security
TSS is especially sensitive to budgetary concerns. “I really try to go above and beyond, and really walk people through the numbers,” Bob George explains. “A lot of times a school comes to us requesting a really high level of ballistic security—they come in at Level 8 or Level 5, when Level 1 is sufficient. Level 8, Level 5, These are very, very expensive systems. But [TSS CEO] Jim [Richards] is big on selling people what they can afford. He’s not the type of owner that ever wants to gouge anybody. So I walk through the products with the client, listen to their requirements, and customize our recommendation to that.”
TSS is always able to furnish a bid well in advance, in order to assist groups working to secure funds, like those available through FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) and Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP).
“We’re all families here with kids. We totally see that schools are incredibly challenging places to work. We really want to reduce that challenge level. If we can make this one part work perfectly—keeping everyone safe without getting in anyone’s way—that really means a lot to us.”
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