The clock is ticking. Municipalities who’ve been considering a bullet resistant barrier for a clerk’s office, courthouse, or utility payment center need to act fast to get that job rolling before the fiscal year runs out. The actual installation of a bullet proof system can be practically painless: Most municipal retrofits are overnight jobs, and even complicated projects rarely take longer than a weekend. But guiding those projects through the design, approval, and permitting stages can drag on and on. A little preparation can prevent the kind of delays that botch budgets.
Bullet Proof Vocabulary for Municipal and Local Government Offices
Knowing the following terms in advance will help you have the most productive call with a bullet proof barrier company:
- Currency tray: This is the shallow steel tray used to pass papers through a bullet resistant barrier.
- Package passer: For larger packages and envelopes, a barrier will need either a custom package passers or prefabricated single-piece steel pass-through drawers.
- Glazing: This is the “bullet proof glass” itself—which is actually either a single piece of thick bullet resistant acrylic, or a composite made of several laminated layers of bullet resistant thermoplastic and tempered glass
- Frame: Holds the glazing in place. Comes in both UL-rated true bullet resistant varieties, as well as non-rated equivalents for non-critical applications.
- Voice port: How will visitors and staff communicate through the barrier? We all dread the old-fashioned, crackling intercoms once common in subway stations and county lock-ups. Advanced fabrication techniques and ballistic materials have made it possible to rely on natural voice communication in most facilities, for crystal clear communication.
- Transaction window: Single-piece units that include glazing, framing, voice port, a passer or deal tray, and often a small countertop. They are shipped ready-to-install in an existing wall—no different than adding an interior window. Transaction windows are, by far, the most common solution for small government offices, payment centers, payroll offices, and so on.
Being Prepared to Talk Bullet Proof Glass
According to Total Security Solutions sales manager Bob George, “We really just need some basic measurements and a few simple answers to get this conversation started.” Talk to your staff about the following four questions before calling, and you’ll be off to a solid start:
- “Fixed opening” or “large area”? A “fixed opening” refers to any opening smaller than a standard home window—for example, the check-in window at a doctor’s office or pharmacy is a “fixed opening.” A “large area” includes anything from the long counters at a county clerk’s office to an open lobby. Fixed openings can usually be secured with a prefabricated transaction window, while large areas call for a custom solution.
- Dimensions? The height and width of the opening that needs to be secured. When dealing with a large area you’ll want to separately note the height of countertops, as these can often be reinforced with ballistic fiberglass.
- What level of protection do you need? Here’s a handy guide, but as a rule of thumb most municipal offices go with Level 3 or lower. Your bullet proof consultant will also want to know about the surrounding walls (drywall, for example, will need to be reinforced with ballistic fiberglass, while brick and concrete block are usually fine on their own).
- What you need to accomplish on a daily basis? Describe your standard work day: How do staff best communicate with customers? Do they need to exchange papers? What about packages? Or accept deliveries? Do staff have a separate secure entrance, or will they need a reinforced bullet proof door connecting to an unsecured common area? Take some time to both talk to front-line staff and to observe them; workers often underestimate how often they have to accept packages or lean across a counter to help a client.
- Review our checklist about security for municipal buildings
- Sign up for our TSS News & Solutions for Architects newsletter to stay updated on bulletproof security
- Check out our Free Bulletproof Glass Resource Center to guide your project