Bullet Proof Glass and Bullet Resistant Barriers | TSS Bulletproof http://www.tssbulletproof.com Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:36:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Architecture Facilitates Learning http://www.tssbulletproof.com/architecture-facilitates-learning/ Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:14:49 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15156 [...]

Changes are happening in schools across America, with the biggest focus on security. Schools are working to be more proactive in preventing violence. Many schools have installed entryway vestibules outfitted with bulletproof glass to control access to the building. They are also implementing new training programs, such as ALICE, to better prepare teachers and staff in the event of an active shooter. And while security will remain—and should remain—a priority in the design and construction of K-12 schools, there is a lot of innovation to highlight in other areas of the design of primary and secondary education buildings.

Design to Promote Collaboration

There has been a trend in office environments toward open work spaces and impromptu meeting zones, providing a more relaxed environment for small groups to collaborate. A variety of furniture styles, from standing height tables to couches, offers flexibility for a quick pow-wow or a “get comfortable, this could take a while” brainstorm session. More recently, this shift in thinking has been applied to the design of primary and secondary education school buildings as well.

millbrookj2ndflprojectareaIn 2012, HMFH Architects unveiled three new elementary schools in Concord, New Hampshire, focused on providing adaptive, accessible, collaborative spaces. Featuring bold colors and ample natural light, the design includes a two-story learning corridor that houses an amphitheater, as well as spaces for art projects, group discussions, story-telling and individual reading. Where physical boundaries were necessary, glazing was utilized as much as possible to maintain a sense of openness and community.

Situated among a grove of big-leaf maples, Carl Sandburg Elementary in Kirkland, Washington took advantage of its surrounding environment and created collaboration spaces and areas of learning, including raised plant beds, outside. Expansive windows flank all sides of the school connecting the interior building space with the outside landscape, creating a park-like environment. Small groups of three or four classrooms are clustered around a central open space which provides flexibility for students and teachers to work individually or in small groups.

The notion of collaborative learning is becoming increasingly popular in primary and secondary education. Schools are moving away from teacher-centric learning highlighted by long lectures and moving toward more active learning, where students work in small groups to learn hands-on and serve both as the student and teacher. This trend is further facilitated by the architecture of the school buildings. A move toward more open spaces encourages this type of learning.

Photo courtesy of www.archdaily.com


Make or Break Project

School Security and Access Control for Architects http://www.tssbulletproof.com/school-security-access-control-architects/ Wed, 20 Apr 2016 20:20:06 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15101 [...]

two story school building with many windowsWhile most school architects are fairly well versed in CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design), many are fairly new to bullet resistant materials and design.  With active shooter scenarios increasingly top-of-mind for education clients considering new construction and renovations, now is a good time to spend a few minutes coming up to speed.

A School Architect’s Introduction to Bullet Resistant Materials and Barrier Systems

At one time “bullet proof glass” was indeed made from thick panes of layered, laminated glass.  Today, almost all “bullet proof glass” is made from solid or layered plastics (usually acrylic for solid windows, and layers of polycarbonate and glass for laminated glazing).

More importantly, the “bullet proof windows” that most clients fixate on are a relatively small part of the barrier, which is an integrated system consisting of:

  1. bullet resistant windows and framing
  2. bullet resistant doors
  3. bullet resistant fiberglass to reinforce surrounding counters and walls
  4. some form of communications system

The communications system can be as simple as the voice portal and backer in a bus-station ticket window, or may include multiple sub-systems: an intercom, a deal tray for passing papers, a bullet resistant drawer or passers for larger items, etc.

For best results–in terms of aesthetics, usability, and security–every bullet resistant barrier should be treated as a custom job.  Every piece of the system needs to seamlessly integrate with both the other elements of the barrier system and with the existing structure, mechanicals, building use patterns, and so on.

Bullet proof materials are rated according to a set of standards set by Underwriters Laboratory (i.e., UL-752).  Both individual materials and complete components and sub-systems are tested by OSHA-designated nationally recognized testing laboratories (NRTL) in order to confirm they perform according to the appropriate UL standard.

Best Practices in School Bulletproof Barrier Systems

For most schools, the best security solution is a bullet resistant vestibule entryway system with integrated access control.  These systems are a fairly straightforward example of CPTED, and can almost always be easily retrofit into existing buildings, or worked into new construction with few alterations.

As Bob George, Total Security Solutions sales manager, explains: “We do our best work when we connect with architects early on in the design process.  The best case scenario is when we can get in there early to help with design recommendations, and guide the school officials toward a good solution.”

Schools often come in initially asking about very extensive Level 5 to 8 systems (which explicitly address the threat of high-powered ammunition and assault weapons).  A level 5 to 8 system would likely include blast-rated and bullet resistant exterior windows capable of stopping very powerful ammunition and blasts, bullet proof doors throughout the facility, and so on.

Such high-level systems are prohibitively expensive, and also entirely unnecessary: Most schools are very well served with a Level 1 hardened entryway with access control.  There are two reasons for this.  First and foremost, the primary goals of a barrier system in a school are deterrence and delay. Anything that gives an active shooter pause or makes him think twice about his actions is often sufficient to prevent an attack.  If that deterrence fails, then simply slowing an attack can buy enough time for first responders to successfully intercede before anyone is injured.

Second, top-tier bullet proof companies like TSS over-engineer their systems and materials as a mater of course.  For example, you’ll note in the following video that the Level 2 door at 1:35 is rated to stop three shots from a .357 Magnum, yet stops five with no problem.  Likewise, the Level 3 window at 2:59 is rated for three shots from .44 Mag, but stops 13, while the Level 3 door shown at 4:17–likewise rated to stop three shots from a .44 Magnum–actually catches 115 shots from a variety of handguns and assault rifles without a single bulge on the protected side.

Access Control and School Security

Access control is an especially important–and often tricky–aspect of a school’s bullet resistant barrier.  Over the last several years a large portion of schools have adopted security procedures that include locking doors during schools hours.  Unfortunately, locked doors slow first responders during an emergency.  While active shooter events are top-of-mind, it’s much more likely that an in-school emergency will be related to a fire, extreme weather, or something as mundane as a child having a bad allergic reaction or being injured in gym class.  All of these require quick access to the building.  Modern access control systems–including centrally controlled electric strikes–are a great improvement over older key-and-lock systems.  They offer many administrative advantages, in addition to speeding entry for emergency responders.

TSS is sensitive to how a design must balance access control and accessibility, especially in schools, where National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) egress codes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and International Fire Code can all come into play.

“We can work with any mix of access control and accessibility requirements,” Bob George notes.  “We always build to suit, and have lots of experience prepping doors for specialized hardware, as well as installing basic electric strikes, magnetic locks, panic bars–all the standard pieces for access control.  More importantly, as Eric [Malzahn] said, TSS works with other security vendors as equals to get the job done right.  That includes working with access control specialists to get all the details right for a complex access control system.”


Bulletproof Glass History

Schools Used as Polling Locations Face Safety Concerns http://www.tssbulletproof.com/schools-polling-locations-face-safety-concerns/ Thu, 14 Apr 2016 15:47:07 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15074 [...]

vote sign on fence outside of buildingIf you voted during your state’s 2016 presidential primaries, chances are you did so at a public school building. Schools are low cost, spacious and accessible, making them desirable polling locations for about a quarter of the United States.

However, for the past several years there has been growing concern expressed by parents as well as school officials about safety. By opening up the building to the public, schools are compromising their usual safety protocol and thus creating an opportunity for danger. Allowing voters to flow freely through the building during elections has enraged many parents, who, must produce identification at the front office, sign in, and wear a visitor badge just to volunteer in their own children’s classrooms on a normal school day.

And with record turnout expected for this year’s presidential election, the conversation is heating up again.

Potential dangers of opening a school to voters could include everything from thousands of strangers in the building to increased car traffic in the parking lots and neighborhoods surrounding schools. Rarer, but still a threat, is the potential for non-custodial parents to use the chaos of election day as an opportunity to access their children.

Some districts, like East Peoria Illinois are combining precincts and moving polling locations out of schools and churches to reduce risk.

How To Keep School Buildings Secure During Elections

In the wake of recent active shooter incidents, many schools have already increased their day-to-day security measures. Here are some specific tactics used by schools  that double as polling locations during elections:

  • Police or security presence
  • Access control
  • Isolating voter traffic away from students
  • Combining several precincts into one location (eliminating the need for so many school buildings)

Those who feel that voting at public school locations is a non-issue cite the fact that there has never been an incident that threatened students or staff safety during an election. Additionally, many fear that the cost of elections will increase, and voter turnout may decrease if polling locations are moved out of schools and into to alternative spaces such as fire halls, churches and civic centers.

The easiest solution to this issue, (and the one favored by students everywhere) is what many school districts around the country have already begun doing: canceling classes on election days and instead making them an in-service day for staff. This has inspired parents in some districts to start petitions to move locations out of their schools.

However, by holding more elections outside of school buildings and/or canceling classes, some argue that we will lose an opportunity to for kids to witness one of the greatest privileges of living in this country: the right to vote. Whatever the solution, most people agree that student safety should be prioritized over voter convenience. 

Next Steps:

Ballistic Door Checklist

Active Shooter Management in Schools: Deter and Delay http://www.tssbulletproof.com/active-shooter-management-schools-deter-delay/ Thu, 07 Apr 2016 20:16:14 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15104 [...]

empty high school hallway with doors shutIn 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.”



Make or Break Project

Premium Ballistic Frames Offer Huge Boosts in Sustainability and Multi-Threat Risk Mitigation http://www.tssbulletproof.com/premium-ballistic-frames-offer-huge-boosts-sustainability-multi-threat-risk-mitigation/ Thu, 31 Mar 2016 12:35:32 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15020 [...]

Client performance goals continue to evolve, growing more complex every year.  At one time, a client was either very concerned with security, or very concerned with sustainability. It was rare for a client to be equally concerned with both.

But the increasing need for ballistic materials in all sorts of construction has collided with the increased stringency of building codes, specifications, and energy performance standards.  Old-line ballistic framing systems—which are still the industry standard—are simplistic.  They are fabricated from a grab-bag of materials to a variety of standards.  Many aren’t even UL-rated to stop bullets. Instead, they are cobbled together from standard aluminum frames packed with chunks of bullet resistant fiberglass glued in place.  Enhanced R-values, thermal breaks, gas fills, and  insulation are just not an option with traditional bullet resistant window and door frames.

Today, advancements in designs and fabrication techniques have resulted in not only standard, true UL-rated door and window frame systems, but also premium systems offering new levels of thermal and ballistic performance.

Thermally Enhanced High-Security Ballistic Door and Window Frame Systems

A security-conscious end-user might be interested in earning a LEED Platinum certificate, or might be passionate about daylighting, or might just want to keep the energy bills down—in any case, having a solid aluminum frame conducting heat directly through the building envelope doesn’t serve any of those goals.  The TSS Thermal Frame System does.

“We developed this ballistic frame system specifically because architects were asking for it,” Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions (TSS), explains. “I don’t know if you know, but buildings use more than half the energy on earth.”

As one architect recently put it “for all practical purposes, all other issues are subservient to sustainability now.”   That’s been beyond challenging with old-style exterior bullet resistant windows, since the windows themselves are solid—no gas fills—and the frames are rarely built with any sort of thermal break.  For example, here’s a cross-section of a traditional window frame:

Cross section close up of a bullet resistant window frame

The old-style frames are solid steel or aluminum members all the way around the window or door, penetrating the exterior wall. As Jim Richards is quick t point out, Think about what that means in certain regions of the United States:  In the summer it could be in the 90s, and in the winter it could be 30 below, but the inside of that building is always 72 degrees with 40 percent humidity.  Your HVAC is fighting heat leaking in all summer, heat leaking out all winter.  You’re not just going to have cold spots and drafts.  You’re going to get condensation, even frost.”

TSS’s thermally improved, Kevlar-reinforced bullet resistant exterior aluminum door and window frame system is calculated to optimize R value, given the needs of a bullet resistant materials.  It offers bullet resistance up through UL Level 8, and can accommodate a wide variety of acrylic, polycarbonate, and laminated bullet resistant glazings.  “It’s an enormous performance boost, in terms of energy, and ballistic—a true ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.”

All-in-One Multi-Threat Ballistic Window Frames

“This isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill frame,” Jim says of the TSS AIO (All-In-One) Frame.  The AIO is a modular, multi-threat glazing frame optimized for higher-threat situations, especially government applications.  It can accept any glazing between .75 and 2.5 inches thick—that’s everything from UL Level 1 acrylic (i.e., which stops three shots from a .9mm pistol) to Level 8 glass-clad polycarbonate (for blocking full-auto bursts from assault rifles).  The frame itself is rated through Level 8, and also has forced entry and blast-resistance characteristics.  The AIO Frame has a broad security and safety profile that encompasses all sorts of threats to life and property, from break-ins and riots to lone gunmen, terror attacks, and even extreme weather.

Rather than using a lighter aluminum backed with strips of Kevlar-based fiberglass paneling, Jim and his team opted for all-aluminum construction and a design that takes full advantage of the edge-on resilience of the glazing itself.  The front-wall of this frame is hearty enough to deflect most calibers, and designed to capture and hold any high-power rounds that do penetrate the frame itself.

Of course, not every job calls for premium ballistic door and window frames.   TSS continues to offer their full line of standard UL-rated and non-rated frames to meet your client’s performance goals.

Next Steps:

Make or Break Project

Chinese Ban “Weird Architecture” http://www.tssbulletproof.com/chinese-ban-weird-architecture/ Wed, 23 Mar 2016 15:10:11 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15032 [...]

Recently, we posted a blog on novelty architecture, which is classified as buildings that are unusually shaped to deliberately draw attention, typically for the purpose of advertising. The topic caught our attention after the completion of Taiwan’s giant glass high heel worship center, which could definitely be clumped into the “weird architecture” category. It was intentionally designed with a feminine appeal in the hopes that it would become a conversation piece and draw women to host their wedding ceremonies onsite.

Growing Trend Toward “Weird Architecture”

Blue Horseshoe Shaped Building in ChinaWeird, over-sized, dramatic architecture isn’t isolated to Taiwan, however. While examples can be found right here in the United States, China has been at the forefront of building it bigger and better with its glass walkways, doughnut-shaped Sheraton hotel and internationally recognized Bird’s Nest, aka Beijing National Stadium, from the 2008 Olympics. While the Bird’s Nest is still a popular tourist attraction, it has been met with criticism because of its high cost to maintain ($11 million a year) and lack of profit-generating events. In addition, China is home to the CCTV Headquarters building, nicknamed locally as “big pants” and several copycat buildings, including more than ten White Houses and even an Eiffel Tower.

It is these very examples of “weird architecture,” among others, that has pushed the State Council in China to put a halt to such creativity, banning outlandish architecture “that lacks cultural tradition.” They have even put a restriction on gated communities stating that they will be opened up to better streamline traffic flow.

Evolution of Chinese Architecture

Chinese architecture has definitely evolved over the years. Classical Chinese architecture is characterized by balance with the entryway centered and symmetrical wings. There is less emphasis on height, focusing instead on the visual width of a structure with over-sized roofs and platforms, downplaying the vertical walls. Modern examples of Chinese architecture, however, are more abstract and built on a much larger scale with a trend toward form over function.

While the idea of architecture that is “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye,” sounds reasonable, many of these terms are subjective leaving the future of Chinese architecture somewhat questionable.


Photo courtesy of city.0932.ru

Make or Break Project

The 10 Most Secure Locations in the United States http://www.tssbulletproof.com/10-secure-locations-united-states/ Fri, 18 Mar 2016 14:36:43 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=14928 [...]


Special security features, like precision temperature control, armed guards and 25-ton nuclear blast doors are part of everyday operations for the world’s most secure locations. Trying to get into (or out of) these modern day fortresses without permission would require the prowess and high tech tools of James Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt combined (cue Mission Impossible theme).

U.S. Bullion Depository viewed from road at Fort Knox Kentucky

1. U.S. Bullion Depository (Kentucky)

Located at the U.S. Army Base at Fort Knox Kentucky, the United States Bullion Depository vault contains a large supply of gold. Not even Congress is allowed to access or open the vaults at Fort Knox. This lack of transparency has lead some to speculate that there might not be any gold in Ft Knox. Several important historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence,and the Magna Carta were temporarily stored at Fort Knox, as well as stranger things like massive amounts of opium and morphine during the Cold War. The roof is bomb proof, the doors are drill, torch and explosive proof.


Federal Reserve Bank of New York top of building

2. Federal Reserve Bank (New York)  

You’ll have to go underground—80 feet below street level to be exact—to access the main vault of the Federal Reserve Bank. This is assuming that you can get past the expertly trained marksman guarding the perimeter. The Federal Reserve is reported to store twenty-five percent of the world’s gold.



Tunnel leading into Cheyenne Mountain

3. Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado)

Cheyenne Mountain references appear in films such as Terminator, Dr. Strangelove, War Games, and the TV series Star Gate. This nuclear bunker is on the Colorado Springs Air Force Base and houses partial operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command  (NORAD). Other tenants include U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Missile Defense Agency. Originally intended to protect us from the Russians during the Cold War era, it is fortified with 25-ton blast doors.

Supermax prison, Florence Colorado

4. ADX Florence Prison (Colorado)

Home to the baddest of the bad, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, this super-max prison is nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Inmates are kept in solitary confinement twenty-three hours a day. Security features include motion detecting laser beams, pressure pads, loads of cameras and attack dogs lining the prison walls.

warning signs outside of Area 51 in Nevada

5. Area 51 (Nevada)

As they say on the X-Files, the “truth is out there.” The truth about Area 51: it’s a detachment of Edwards Air Force base, is protected by a no-fly zone, and is patrolled regularly by low-flying black helicopters. Otherwise, what goes on there is open to speculation. Conspiracy theories persist that the government hides aliens there. More likely—it’s a testing ground for weapons and experimental aircraft. But don’t fly your drone near Area 51 to sneak a peek, the government just issued a ban on that last month.

Iron Mountain tunnel entrance

6. Iron Mountain (Pennsylvania)

What was once a limestone mine is now  a 1.7 million square feet storage locker that contains anything from master recordings and original film reels of famous songs and movies to Thomas Edison’s patent for the light bulb. Bill Gates, for instance, stores his photography collection in one of Iron Mountain’s climate controlled, underground caves.

Church of Latter Day Saints Conference Center theater

7. Granite Mountain Records Vault (Utah)

The vault at Granite Mountain was built by the LDS Church to protect billions of genealogical records, documents and photos of family history on microfilms. The church recently allowed items to be shared publicly. In 2014, it opened the vault and began the process of digitizing fifty years’ worth of records. Inside the mountain you’ll find guarded steel and concrete lined tunnels, banks of metal storage cabinets and nuclear blast-resistant doors.

Aerial view of the Pentagon, Arlington, VA

8. The Pentagon (Washington, D.C.)

Home to the US Department of Defense, this five-story building is huge (6,500,000 sq ft), extremely secure and provides office space for more than 23,000 employees, both civilian and military. A month after the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, a renovation, known as The Phoenix Project, was commissioned and was completed in February of 2003. The renovation included safety upgrades as well as moving the Defense Department’s command centers to the basement.

Aerial view of CIA Headquarters in Virginia

9. CIA Headquarters (Virginia)

In addition to being out-of-the-way, CIA headquarters is only accessible with proper credentials, by appointment, and can only be approached by an authorized vehicle via private road. Good to know if you do visit: They have a Starbucks. This is a nice perk for employees who can’t unwind by looking out a window (most offices don’t have them) or playing Candy Crush on their cell phones (not allowed in the building).

Air Force One flying over Mt. Rushmore

10. Air Force One (Wherever it wants)

Air Force One is not technically a building, but it is the world’s most secure movable location. It made our list because it can refuel in flight, fly through irradiated zones, jam radar, and fire flares to throw heat seeking missiles off course. The rest of the safety features onboard this aircraft are classified.

Next Steps:

Make or Break Project

Seamless Collaboration Results in Seamless Security: Access Control and Custom Bullet-Resistant Doors http://www.tssbulletproof.com/seamless-collaboration-results-seamless-security-access-control-custom-bullet-resistant-doors/ Wed, 09 Mar 2016 15:09:54 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=15023 [...]

Building a good bullet resistant barrier systems with access control requires seamless collaboration between vendors.  This doesn’t just reduce stress and lower cost (although it always does the former and almost invariably the latter)—it also results in systems with a tighter fit, smoother look, and altogether better performance.  Seamless collaboration is the only way to get a seamless system: One that operates smoothly, consistently, and doesn’t tip off possible attackers.

Access Control is a System

In contrast to traditional door locks—which are interchangeable stand-alone pieces that can be easily swapped out—a modern access control system is just that: A system, relying on dedicated software.  While the initial installation and configuration is more complicated than just having a locksmith come in, the resulting functionality is an order of magnitude simpler to deal with and more useful.

For example, key management is traditionally a nightmare—staff turnover, new hires, lost and stolen keys, special access needs, contract maintenance teams, security staff, etc. With an access control system, adding or removing access is just a matter of keystrokes. If someone looses an RFID fob or keycard, issuing a new one is significantly cheaper and easier than having a new key cut (or, in the worst-case scenario, having to re-key all the doors accessed with a given key). In a building-wide system, each individual user can have customized access to different spaces without having to carry an entire ring of keys, and can be granted access on a temporary or conditional basis (e.g., only on weekdays, only between 8am and 5pm, only after business hours, etc.).  A system can have 100,000 users or just 10, it can be accessed via keypad, card, card and PIN, RFID tag, biometrics, and so on.  Additionally, the system can log users as they come (and go), or pass between building sectors.

“These are really incredibly flexible systems,” Eric Malzahn, a Total Security Solutions project manager, explains.  “So, before an architect or facility owner starts talking to any vendors, what’s most important is to really take a look at the end-users’ daily operations, how they are functioning every single day, so that the system can be designed around that.”

Secure Access Demands Collaboration

Eric notes, “With such powerful systems, it’s really important to get all the details right, all the parts meshing.  What separates TSS is that we’re willing to work with other security vendors as equals.  Other companies in our industry really shy away from that. They don’t understand access control, so they don’t want to deal with it. We’re not scared of these types of challenges.  We’ll customize our systems to make it work however the end-user wants.  We always take the time to research it and work with others to make it happen.”

Such collaborations can be very straightforward.  It might take nothing more than a few quick phone calls, and then supplying doors prepped for specific hardware.  TSS can also design and fabricate bullet resistant barrier systems around the access control system, which can include integrating power supplies feeding the appropriate voltage, installing electric strikes and electrified hinges, and so on, so that the access control system can be easily wired up once the barrier is installed.  “We’ve done full-blown access control systems with everything: key cards, electric strikes, Aiphone, the works—much of it buried in the door or frame, so you don’t have external wires and ‘after-market add-ons’ showing.”

This isn’t limited to new construction or entirely new systems.  “For example, we were working with a client in Florida who had an Aiphone system in place.This brand of audio/video intercom system is especially popular with schools.  “We came in, took measurements, investigated what we need to do to keep their existing access control system while improving on their security by seamlessly integrate access control with a fully rated door.”

A Security System is Only as Good as its Doors

Instead of bulk-purchasing mass-produced pre-fab doors, TSS fabricates all of their doors entirely in-house.  In part, this is simply a matter of practicality:  A pre-fab door is never going to be a perfect fit. If you want a system that looks good and works smoothly, you need a custom-tailored door.  By building their own doors, TSS can be sure that any hardware the end-user wants will be perfectly fitted to the door, and that the door can be properly prepped for seamless integration with any access control scheme.

But for TSS CEO Jim Richards, custom bullet resistant doors are about more than just being practical. “We always want our work to be a cut above,” he explains.  As an example, he shares these 100% custom interior double doors, built for a sensitive corporate facility.  “This is the kind of custom work we can do on a one-off.  No one in our industry has ever done doors like these.”


At first glance, they seem like standard vestibule doors.

“But those door lites aren’t individual panes—each door has a single-piece of monolithic acrylic, visually divided by false muntins that we built from scratch, precisely blended to the surface of the door”—which is backed with bullet resistant fiberglass, and also conceals access control devices integrated with the building-wide system.”

In most cases a buyer will order a door either veneered, or simply primed to be painted on site.  For this particular job, they needed a quick, quiet, clean installation.  The client also wanted to assure durability, so TSS handled a custom paint job, as well as all of the brass hardware, perfectly matching every other piece in the building.

The result: security-rated doors and advanced access control systems, seamless integrated to fade into the background.


Make or Break Project

Your First Bullet Proof System: Planning, Production, and Installation http://www.tssbulletproof.com/bullet-proof-system-planning-production-installation/ Wed, 02 Mar 2016 22:00:51 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=14893 [...]

bulletproof glass barrier in business setting

According to Jim Richards, CEO of Total Security Solutions, people worry too much about bulletproof barrier installation:
“They get really focused on what it’ll take to get a system installed, and it’s hard to persuade them that this isn’t that big a deal. The real challenge is in the initial planning, which comes weeks and months before anything ships. That’s the tricky part, the part we’re really eager to carefully guide them through. The installation? Heck, we get that done overnight. That’s a piece of cake.”

Planning for a Great Bullet Proof Barrier System

There are five questions you’ll need to think through before calling a bullet proofing consultant:

1) What sort of threat do you need to protect against? It takes different levels of ballistic material to stop a .9mm and an AK-47. Likewise, it takes different styles of systems to deter an ideologically driven sniper and a smash-and-grab bandit.
2) What area of your building do you need to secure? Different materials and designs work better in indoor and outdoor applications. The number of access points, the height of ceilings and lengths of counters, the materials of the walls, all have an impact on system design.
3) What sort of business do you need to get done through the barrier? A barrier with high traffic–many transactions, many deliveries, many visitors, a loud and bustling lobby–poses different challenges than a barrier mounted at the end of a quiet hall with only the occasional visitor turning in paperwork.
4) What are your aesthetic goals? Some businesses want unobtrusive bullet proof reception windows and bullet resistant doors that blend in with every other door in the building; others want the system to clearly announce itself and act as major a deterrent.
5) What limitations are there to the delivery and installation? Your system arrives in a semi-truck strapped to pallets that need to be moved with a forklift. Installing on a second floor with narrow halls in a building at the end of an alley is challenging–knowing about that early will give TSS time to find solutions.

Getting the Details of Your Project Right is the First Step

Once you have these details clear in your head, then you will have a very productive conversation with a TSS consultant. That consultant will walk you through the options that suit your space and application, arrange to get accurate measurements, have drawings prepared as you work through the approval process, and so on.
It surprises most new customers to learn that the trickiest aspect of any bullet proof system is the doors. Any member of Jim’s team can recall countless occasions when a customer has been absolutely confident that they need a door hinged on the right and swinging into the secured area, only to take one look at the drawings and realize that’s impossible because of the furniture layout, or the way two halls come together, or fire code, or one of a million other tiny details.
“Doors get people all the time,” Jim notes. “It’s why we made this bullet proof door checklist, to help people think through it before they commit.”
It may seem like a simple matter, but TSS bulletproof doors are entirely custom made–which is how they can get a seamless fit and smoothly integrate your your preferred hardware, from standard keyed locks and panic bars to multi-entry computer-controlled electric strike access systems. Changing the direction of swing or how the door is hung often necessitates redesigning the door from scratch.

Smooth Production and Installation Preparation

Once the plan is squared away and approved in writing, the process rolls very smoothly. All TSS bullet resistant barrier systems and components are fabricated on-site). In order to assure tight tolerances among all of a barrier’s components, TSS relies on a highly tech-driven engineering workflow. Because of the job batching process, many projects go into production immediately upon receiving your approval. This is great for delivery times, but bad for last minute changes; always double check all drawings carefully prior to approval.
While your system components are being fabricated, there are a few things you can take care of to be ready for installation. The most important of these are:
1) Establish a single point of contact within your organization to answer any questions about the system, delivery, or installation. Having a single point of contact assures faster turnarounds and fewer miscommunications.
2) Prepare for installation: Make arrangements within your organization to receive shipments, clear out spaces, grant after-hours access to installers, and so on.

Keeping Installation Easy

The installation itself is a breeze, rarely taking more than a single evening. Even complex systems can be installed over a weekend. While some buyers may elect to do their own installation–especially with a “single-site” or “single element” installation, like putting in a simple transaction window–Jim is quick to point out that it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.
“These are unfamiliar materials to most people,” he explains. “What you’ve got to keep in mind is that these materials can’t be treated the same way as regular building materials. First off, they’re heavy. It’s very easy to damage your drywall or framing by leaning a large ballistic acrylic window against it. A bullet proof door, if leaned against a wall, can actually deform under its own weight. Also, some of the materials–especially the transparency–can be badly marred by things like paint thinner or lacquer thinner, which are no problem for regular window glass.”


Bulletproof Glass History

Novelty Architecture http://www.tssbulletproof.com/novelty-architecture/ Wed, 24 Feb 2016 14:52:10 +0000 http://www.tssbulletproof.com/?p=14849 [...]

Taiwan Glass SlipperTake a trip around the world and you’re bound to encounter architectural masterpieces that leave you awe-inspired. But for every beautifully designed building, there stands another odd one that leaves you wondering why. Take, for example, the recently completed giant glass….high heel? In an effort to draw more women, this glass church built in Taiwan was intentionally designed to resemble Cinderella’s glass slipper. Commissioned by local government officials in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, it will be used during wedding ceremonies and photo shoots, not for regular service. While the design has been met with mixed reviews, it’s definitely one that won’t soon be forgotten.

Famous Novelty Architecture in the United States

You don’t have to travel overseas to find unforgettable architecture. The phrase “novelty architecture” is used to describe architecture in which buildings are unusually shaped to deliberately draw attention, typically for the purpose of advertising. Structures like The Coffee Pot in Bedford, Pennsylvania became quite common along highways as the use of the automobile increased. They served as a means of attracting motorists to the nearby restaurants or shops and often took the shape of what they were selling. In La Puente, California, The Donut Hole features two giant donuts through which visitors drive to place their order. Another example is the shell-shaped Shell Gas Stations, eight in total, built in the 1930s. Only one still remains in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Architecture as Advertising

Longaberger HeadquartersWhat’s better than a billboard to advertise your brand? The Longaberger Basket Company, headquartered in Newark, Ohio, took their love of baskets and the idea of novelty architecture to a new level when designing their building. It holds the record as the world’s largest basket and is a scaled replica of the company’s biggest seller, the Medium Market Basket. The seven-story building was completed in 1997 and is a tourist attraction for basket-loving patrons.

Though not yet built, Tulsa, Oklahoma is embracing its title of “Tornado Alley” with the proposed design of its new Oklahoma Weather Museum and Research Tower. Nicknamed Tornado Tower, the corkscrew-like building resembles the funnel shape of a tornado.


Photo courtesy of www.bbc.com and  www.commons.wikimedia.org

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