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Satisfying Uncle Sam.

FOR YEARS, FIRE SAFETY MARSHALS and government defense contractors have sat on opposite sides of the fence, each with their own view of what is important. Fire marshals seek to protect human lives. Defense contractors, on the other hand, seek to protect against unauthorized access to highly confidential material that affects the nation's security. The easier it is for personnel to get out of a defense contractor's secured area in a life-threatening situation, the easier it is for top-secret information to leave the premises. Both sides have valid concerns, yet they are diametrically opposed.

Progress in building regulations and fire codes has resulted primarily from strong public reaction to major life-threatening disasters and failures of unregulated construction. Concern for preserving the safety of employees became especially apparent when high-rise buildings were first developed. When fires or earthquakes occurred in these buildings, people on upper floors could not be evaluated, stairways and vestibules were not fireproof, and fire escapes were not present.

National codes guide the development and construction of safe, secure facilities. The Uniform Building Code, the National Fire Code, and the Building Officials Code Administration (BOCA) are three major statutes. Federal and state OSHA agencies determine building occupancy rates.

Most codes and standards in the fire protection field are developed by three organizations: the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Inc. Unfortunately, many of these regulations are open to interpretation by city and county authorities on a case-by-case basis.

In El Segundo, CA, a densely populated community where approximately 75 percent of the people work for the aerospace industry, safety officials strictly enforce safety regulations. "With maximum exposure to government agency officials and the defense industry in El Segundo, we feel it's important to hold our ground on these regulations," notes El Segundo Fire Marshal Gene Bell. "This is not always the case in other jurisdictions."

Many safety officials believe that once security products gain acceptance with safety officials, building and ssfety codes will be enforced universally.

According to the NFPA's Life Safety Code, every building or structure that is designed for human occupancy must have exists and other safeguards to enable occupants to escape promptly, or it must have other means ,of providing a reasonable degree of safety for occupants in case of fire or other emergency. A basic pinciple of the code is that every component of a means of egress or an exit system must be operable by and under the control of the occupant seeking egress.

"In other words, a means of egress ,or exit must have one motion out with no specialized knowledge or training in order to operate the locking mechanism," says Bell.

IN A DEFENSE CONTRACTOR'S CLEARED facility, security is a top priority. Government contracts are the lifeblood of defense contractors. Without the ability to maintain and secure a cleared facility, defense contractors could lose valuable government contracts.

The Defense Intelligence Agency Manual is a policy manual that governs security areas for defense contractors. It outlines physical construction requirements for sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs).

According to the manual, all SCIF entrance doors must be equipped with a heavy-duty pneumatic door closer, a Group 1R combination lock, and an access control device. In addition, SCIF emergency exit doors must be constructed of material equivalent in strength and density to that of the main entrance door, be secured with dead bolt panic hardware on the inside, and have no exterior hardware.

Two kinds of unauthorized entries concern defense contractors. Unauthorized internal entry comprises individuals who violate secured areas by leaving exit or entrance doors open or document containers unsecured. And, more rarely, unauthorized external entry occurs when foreign agents gain access to a cleared facility that has top secret documents and materials that could be copied or sabotaged.

According to Jim Brown, security facilities manager for TRW Space and Defense Sector, "In the past, to protect against unauthorized internal access, defense contractors have used an auxiliary spin-dial locking system, which has an automatic dead bolt and requires a two-handed operation to unlock the dead bolt and twist the doorknob to exit. In addition, alarm systems, guard forces, and electronic surveillance systems, which monitor entrance and exit of authorized personnel, prevent unauthorized internal access."

Fire marshals typically have objected to the auxiliary spin-dial locking systems. "Due to a two-handed operation, which prevents personnel from exiting quickly in a life-threatening situation, these security systems are unacceptable for safety purposes," states Bell.

Until recently, defense contractors often were required to design a classified facility with two doors--an entry door that provided security for classified material and an additional fire exit door that offered a single-motion, safe egress for personnel. For defense contractors, an inordinate number of staff hours was spent with building inspectors and other officials to come up with a design to meet the goals of these stringent regulations.

"The defense industry fully understands that a no-win situation exists when confronted with safety versus security issues," notes Woody Woodward, chief of physical security at Lockheed Advanced Development Company. "We have to continue to be innovative and know that we can count on manufcturers of security products to develop products that will allow our industry to comply with government security requirements as well as provide our employees with a safe working environment."

Thus came the question--how do defense contractors and fire safety officials work together to develop a system that meets the needs of both security and life safety? Here is one example of how the two groups were able to work in concert.

For more than three years, Sargent & Greenleaf's Government Products Group and the engineering staff at Von Duprin worked with defense contractors and California fire marshals to resolve the inherent conflicts of combining safety and security. As part of the design program, the group sought three critical goals: safety for personnel; security for classified information; and compliance with all fire safety, life safety, and building and security code requirements.

Out of these meetings, engineers designed a locking system called the High Security Exit Device (HSED). Three basic components of the HSED work together as a system.

An $&G 8470 combination lock is first unlocked by authorized personnel. One uncocked, the automatic dead bolt can be set to be passive (dogged) by moving the slide switch on the back cover. After the combination lock is dogged, the exit device becomes the principal locking component, and only authorized personnel have access by key, code, or card. At all times, the fire-rated exit device provides mechanical, one-motion unlocking by depressing the push pad, regardless of the locked or unlocked condition of the dead bolt.

"It's been my experience," says TRW's Brown, "that fire marshals are satisfied with the HSED because it fulfills their requirements for safety, while defense contractor don't have to sacrifice security."

The system has been approved by the Department of Defense for safeguarding entry doors to secured areas. It meets all Uniform Building Codes, BOCA, and NFPA 101 codes as well as all US military specifications, and it has been listed as a three-hour, fire-rated panic exit lock by UL and the office of the California State Fire Marshal.

The future for combining security and safety in the defense industry looks bright. More and more security directors are participating in the architectural design phase of new construction projects to ensure that cleared facilities safely meet regulations. Advanced security technology, including alarms, motion detectors, and hand-held scanning equipment, is being installed for safety and surveillance reasons across the nation.

Security systems for the '90s and beyond will be challenged to ensure that they meet not only the most rigid security requirements but also the most sensitive life safety regulations.

Gary Murphree is vice president of government business development for Sargent & Greenleaf Inc. in Arlington, VA. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Murphree, Gary
Publication:Security Management
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:1308
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