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Lighten your liability.


ORGANIZATIONS HAVE AN obligation to provide a safe environment with adequate lighting. Several legal cases directly related to protective lighting reiterate this need. For example, in Fancil v. Q.S.E. Foods Inc., a law enforcement officer's widow filed a wrongful death suit against the store owner for disconnecting a light at the rear entrance to his premises. This light was disconnected despite repeated burglaries and despite the store owner's awareness that the police checked his business each evening because of its high-risk status. The police officer in this case was shot by a perpetrator hiding in the dark area behind the store. A judgment was awarded to the widow when the court supported her case that the store owner was negligent through his failure to provide adequate lighting.(1)

Another negligent lighting suit was brought against the Fairmount Fair Mall in Camillus, New York.(2) Vehicle theft at the mall was increasing at an alarming rate and security patrols were ineffective because of the dark lot. Once the word was out that the Fairmount Fair Mall was unsafe, shopping activity decreased. Mall management conducted a survey of its patrons, who indicated a new lighting system was necessary in order for them to feel safe. The new system cost $95,000 to install. After the installation, auto break-ins were virtually eliminated. As a result of this new system, sales increased approximately $2.5 million annually, and because each store owner's rent was based on sales volume this improvement generated a $340,000 annual rental income increase for the mall.

Adequate lighting is a cost-effective line of defense in preventing crime. But how is good lighting defined? The ideal lighting system would exactly reproduce daylight. However, since that is unlikely, the system should furnish a high level of visibility while producing a low level of glare. The protective lighting system should allow the security force to maintain a level of security similar to that observed during the day and should create a psychological deterrent to intrusion and criminal activity. Without an adequate protective lighting system, all other lines of defense such as security patrols, signs, and closed-circuit television are ineffective.

A protective lighting system should illuminate the approaches to the facility and the perimeter barrier, along with the area between the perimeter barrier and all structures located within the protective area.(3) Lighting should be directed downward and away from all structures and away from security personnel assigned to patrol the facility. The goal is to create as few shadows as possible. Perimeter lights should be installed so the cones of illumination overlap, eliminating areas of total darkness if any one light fails.

Protection of the lighting system can be accomplished by installing all fixtures inside the perimeter barrier at a high level and enclosing them in vandal-resistant housing. Power lines should be buried and switch boxes protected. When lighting is required in the vicinity of navigable waters, consult with the US Coast Guard to ensure safe placement.

LIGHT INTENSITY IS MEASURED IN FOOTCANDLES. ONE footcandle is the illumination on a one-square-foot surface by a uniformly distributed lumen of light. A lumen is the measure of a light source's output. Exhibits 1 and 2 show the minimum intensity recommendations for outdoor protective lighting as outlined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the Department of the Army. Although the standards disagree, there are common areas. A comparison of the two agencies' minimum required intensities is indicated in Exhibit 3.

Before an effective protective lighting system can be designed and installed, security lighting and general lighting sources must be examined. Following are the five basic types of lighting:

* Continuous lighting. With this system, a series of fixed stationary luminaires is arranged to light a specific area continuously during hours of darkness.

* Entry lighting. This type of lighting is used at access control points for personnel and vehicles where identification must be inspected and verified.

* Standby lighting. Consisting of continuous systems reserved for standby use, the luminaires in this system are not continuously lit but can be activated either manually or automatically.

* Portable lighting. This system uses movable, manually operated searchlights or floodlights in areas requiring additional temporary lighting. Used as a supplement to the other systems described, portable lighting is commonly seen during construction at a building site.

* Emergency lighting. An emergency lighting system may duplicate any or all of the previously mentioned systems. This system is primarily a backup system in case of a power failure or other emergency and operates on an alternative power source such as a gas-powered generator or batteries.

Just as important as understanding the preceding uses of lighting is a familiarity with various common light sources. Five of the more common light sources are incandescent, fluorescent, mercury vapor, sodium vapor (high pressure and low pressure), and metal halide.

Incandescent. Recognized as the common light bulb, the incandescent light has a low initial cost, good color rendition, and immediate illumination. Its disadvantages include a relatively short life (500 to 4,000 hours(4)) and low efficiency.

Fluorescent. Fluorescent lights are efficient, inexpensive, gaseous discharge lamps with good color rendition. However, they have a short range of coverage and are temperature sensitive--low temperatures decrease their efficiency.

Mercury vapor. Also a gaseous discharge light, mercury vapor lamps emit a blue-white color and are generally considered more efficient than incandescent lamps. Approximately 70 percent of all street lighting is mercury vapor. They are highly efficient and have a long life (24,000 hours or more(5)), low operating cost, and good color rendition. However, mercury vapor lights have a slow warm-up period and a slow recovery after a power failure.

Sodium vapor. These lights can be either high pressure or low pressure and are also of the gaseous discharge type. Sodium vapor lamps emit a golden yellow color. The advantages of a high pressure light include its high efficiency, good color rendition, long life (up to 24,000 hour(6)), and low operating cost. The high pressure light's disadvantages include its slow warm-up, slow recovery after a power failure, high initial cost of installation, and the electromagnetic radiation that could cause interference with equipment or systems, including alarms.(7)

Low pressure sodium vapor lights are also highly efficient, have a low operating cost, long life, and are quick to recover after a power failure. However, they have a high initial cost of installation, give poor color rendition, and emit electromagnetic radiation.

Metal halide. Metal halide lamps emit a yellow light and have a gaseous discharge. These lamps are similar in appearance to mercury vapor lamps but provide higher efficiency and an improved color rendition. Their rated life is 6,000 hours, and their major disadvantage is the amount of time required to recover after a power loss.

Another important factor when designing a lighting system is its power source and wiring. When planning power distribution for a protective lighting system, only two choices are available. Overhead wiring is less expensive but susceptible to damage by the weather and to sabotage or vandalism. The second option is underground installation, which is more expensive but also more secure.

In addition to the primary power source usually supplied by a public utility, an alternate source of power must be considered because of possible interruptions or failures. Because a security lighting system requires a great deal of energy to maintain operations during a power loss, the most practical choice is to use a gasoline or diesel generator as a backup system. All emergency backup power equipment should be tested monthly. A quarterly test should also be conducted with a full load for several hours. The fuel supply should be periodically inspected and maintained at two thirds of maximum capacity.

Protective lighting, once researched and installed, is generally inexpensive to maintain. But perhaps a more important factor to consider is the reduction in the company's liability exposure due to the decrease and deterrence of criminal activity. (1)Philip P. Purpura, CPP, Security and Loss Prevention (Stoneham, MA: Butterworth Publishers, 1984), p. 184. (2)Norman R. Bottom, Jr., The Parking Lot and Garage Security Handbook (Columbia, MD: Hanrow Press Inc., 1988), pp. 34-36. (3)Walter M. Strobl, CPP, Handbook Principles of Physical Security (Memphis, TN: Strobl Security Services Inc; distributed by Training Consultants Inc., Knoxville, TN, 1977), p. 36. (4)Louis A. Tyska, CPP, and Lawrence J. Fennelly, Controlling Cargo Theft: A Handbook of Transportation Security (Stoneham, MA: Butterworth Publishers, 1983), p. 195. (5)Tyska and Fennelly, p. 196. (6)Tyska and Fennelly. (7)Richard J. Gigliotti and Ronald C. Jason, Security Design for Maximum Protection (Stoneham, MA: Butterworth Publishers, 1984), p. 139.

John K. Law, CPP, is a principal with CALA Associates Inc., a security consulting and investigative firm. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Law, John K.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1989
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