Understanding Attack Resistant Doors Within Education Environments

Violent incidents have prompted schools to examine and improve campus security

Since 2013, there have been more than 300 education-campus related gunfire incidents in the U.S.—an average of about one per week. With an increase in hostile events, gunfire incidents and other security breaches have prompted parents and administrators to examine and improve campus security.

Among the many options for enhancing security, one of the fastest ways to mitigate risk is to fortify entry points to prevent unauthorized visitors from gaining access to a building or facility in the first place.

WHAT ARE ATTACK RESISTANT DOOR OPENINGS?

Attack resistant openings are a total solution intent on delaying access by an attacker and thwarting unauthorized entry until first responders can arrive. Combining specific door, frame and hardware products with attack-resistant glass creates an opening designed for protection.

With an attack resistant opening, the door and glass are not engineered to stop a bullet from penetrating the opening; however, the opening will not weaken, and will stay intact even if shot and physically struck to prevent an attacker from breaching the opening.

The industry’s leading attack resistant systems are tested according to the 5-aa10 test standards based on the FBI’s Active Shooter Report to set standards for forced entry for new construction, specifically for wood and hollow metal doors, frames, hardware, structures, and systems.

Optimum glass solutions consist of a laminated layered glass product with a security-grade, heat-strengthened, chemically bonded core. This glass core technology reacts to physical abuse like metal and will bend, but won’t tear or rip like many security glass products available and being installed today.

To ensure doors remain secure once they are locked, optimum attack resistant openings are tested to withstand an intense four-minute physical attack with the use of hand tools after being shot dozens of times at various points of the opening—door, glass, and hardware.

WINDOW FILMS, STORMS, AND PRISON GLASS

With good intentions, and under heavy pressure, facility managers and administrators often search for ways to enhance their security quickly and with minimal costs. On its surface, the strategy of applying a security film to existing windows and glass seems like a good idea, but unfortunately, these films were never designed as a defense against forced entry.

Window films are designed for blast purposes, to keep glass from becoming shrapnel in the event of a single blast or shot. There are no window film products available today that pass any level of forced entry testing.

Similarly, it is often assumed that hurricane-rated storm glass can stop an intruder, but this is not the case. Hurricane testing for glass involves a single impact from a blunt object (a wooden two-by-four, for example) traveling at 34 mph and slamming into the glass. This test does not represent the force, persistence and creativity of someone trying to break into a building, with multiple gunshots to the glass, door and door hardware.

Often the same type of thinking is applied to the wire-laminated glass used within prisons and corrections facilities. This glass is designed to withstand brute force from objects such as thrown chairs, simple tools, and fists. They are built to buckle and not shatter into shards of glass that could be used as weapons.

Only attack-resistant solutions that have been rigorously tested to repel an attack from firearms and hand tools can withstand an assault and give first responders the time needed to arrive and confront the threat.

EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE AND USE

For an effective attack-resistant opening, the door, door hardware, and glass must all work together as a complete unit to provide protection. If an assailant can break the glass, they can gain access to a room; if the glass is protected, but the door is not strong enough, they can still gain access.

The same is true for the door hardware. The door and glass may be hardened, but if inappropriate hardware is used, the latch can be released, and the assailant can gain access. The door, hardware and glass need to work as a system to be effective in slowing down an assailant.

  • In an emergency situation involving an armed attacker, every second matters. An attack resistant opening can provide a minimum of four minutes of resistance to physical attack. This provides first responders enough time to arrive on scene to help.
  • Attack resistant openings are ideal for new school construction as well as for retrofit applications. With the average age of US school facilities at 44 years, retrofit installations are increasingly common.
  • Leading attack-resistant doors and openings meet the test standards for forced entry and ballistic resistant levels of protection for various threats set forth based on the FBI’s Active Shooter Report.
  • Although the glazing will not stop a bullet from penetrating the opening, properly installed attack-resistant glass will not shatter, resulting in increased time for occupants to clear the area and seek shelter.

PRE-EMERGENCY PLANNING

Every aspect of a facility’s security hardware should be routinely inspected to ensure everything is working correctly—all access control openings should have a door closer, locks should be functioning and latching correctly, and there should be no loose hinges.

It’s very likely that adjustments or modifications will have to be made over the life of a door opening. Note, there shouldn’t be any instances where locks or exit devices are intentionally defeated—for example, if a door stop is placed under a normally locked door to keep it open for convenience.

It is important to not depend solely on the physical security hardware to ensure occupant safety and security. Facilities, such as retail spaces, government buildings and schools, need emergency response plans and trained personnel in place who know the procedures that can help prevent incidences from occurring or guide everyone to safety until officials arrive.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for facilities that require specialty hardware like attack resistant doors. It is advisable to seek out experienced and knowledgeable integrators, consultants and manufacturing partners that can inform, educate and provide ongoing support throughout the specification and installation process.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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