Conducting a Vulnerability Survey to determine physical security requirements requires many steps, including recording information in a Door Detail Schedule (DDS). During the physical survey, the chief security officer should record the information obtained about the openings on the DDS.

To fill in the DDS, determine the “common name” given to each opening or alarm point in the protected area. The common name is the one given to that location by company personnel and used on a day-to-day basis. The “formal name” for the opening is usually provided on the floor plan or plot plan. This will be the primary identifier when discussing openings with company employees in future meetings and will serve as the primary reference for communicating equipment locations to vendors during the bid and installation process.

The formal name tends to be more exact and reflects the relative location in the building. The architect of the building typically generated egress names during the design phase (e.g., corridor 12, door 15). However, these designations frequently give way to a common description recognized by employees in everyday situations (e.g., lab door). It would be useful to record both.

Using the security level assignments made during the preparation step, assess each opening in the protected perimeter. Show the means of access, egress, locking and alarm on the DDS. Continue in a like manner for the entire outer perimeter and then move to each inner perimeter, assessing each opening in each perimeter. The primary mission of the DSS is to establish the traffic patterns throughout the facility.

Access and Egress Control Devices

An access/egress control device is a card reader, PIN pad, biometric measuring device or other identification device that uses a characteristic of an individual or the properties of a credential the individual possesses to identify the person requesting access or egress. At this point, it is only important to note that some form of identity recognition is needed for access or egress at controlled openings.

Exit Button

After locating any access control devices, and egress control devices used, specify the placement of egress buttons. There are a variety of regulations concerning the placement, use and operation of egress buttons. The state and local fire marshals enforce these regulations and failure to follow them can result in the closing of the facility until the violations are corrected.

In addition to egress buttons, the code requires a variety of other means of egress from a protected area. When specifying any form of security system that restrains egress from a protected space, complete familiarity with the entire section of NFPA Means of Egress requirements is imperative.

Door Locks

The appropriate lock is vital to the proper operation of any access control system that controls an opening. Electronic access control systems are designed to either admit or deny an individual an access opening, but what restrains the individual from entering the opening is the actual door and lock. It is important to choose the appropriate lock for a given door. A well-designed, properly installed access control system can be easily defeated if the appropriate locking mechanism is not properly selected and installed.

Door locks fall into two broad categories: locks that work with the existing door hardware and locks that are not dependent on the existing door hardware. No single choice is best in all circumstances.

Other locks are completely independent of the existing door hardware, such as power bolts and power magnets. These devices usually have one component installed on the doorframe and another component installed on the door. The relation between these two devices is such that the application (or release) of power will permit the door to open. These products generally hold an opening closed by a mechanical or magnetic means and act independently of any other mechanism on the door. Again, a complete examination of these devices is not necessary at this point; only the designation of a lock and lock type.

Door Hardware

When choosing an electric strike for a door, information is also required about the existing door hardware. Electric strikes are designed to replace door strike plates and not all electric strikes are compatible with all strike plate cutouts. Furthermore, not all electric strikes are compatible with all door handle hardware.

The most appropriate means for determining compatibility between strike and strike plate is to use a cross-reference document published by the electric strike manufacturers. However, the exact make and model of door hardware is not always easy to determine by simply examining the outer surface of the door hardware. Make a tracing of the existing strike plate that will be replaced by the new electric strike. This will save considerable time in the system design step.

Using a piece of ordinary paper, title the paper with the name and location of the door. Place the paper over the strike plate, aligning the edge of the paper with the edge of the door jam. Note the side of the paper where the jam is located. Trace the outer edges of the entire strike plate and the inner edges of the cutouts — holes in the plate that accept the door handle hardware (keeper and bolt). Be sure to indicate on the tracing the location, size and center of the mounting screw holes. This will also be an essential part of making the appropriate electric strike selection. A lock hardware supplier can use this tracing to match an electric strike to the existing strike plate. Share these documents with vendors when releasing the bid. A simple sketch will assist them in preparing their cost proposals and allow for them to install the appropriate hardware.

Door Status Switches

Plan to monitor all security perimeter openings. Door status switches, sometimes called door contacts or alarm contacts, are used to monitoring openings. Door status switches are simple mechanical sensors that detect the status of an opening. Although the name implies a DSS is for door installations, these switches are also for windows and other types of openings.

In general, a DSS consists of two components: a magnet attached to the door leaf and a reed switch that detects the presence of that magnet. Simply put, when the door is closed the alarm contact is in close proximity to the reed switch and holds it closed. When the door is open, the magnet is away from the reed switch and the switch opens. This provides a signal to an electronic security system that indicates the door is open. During the physical survey, indicate where a DSS is needed at an opening and the number required.

Space Protection

If a room, a passageway or some open area requires protection, use a space protection device. These detectors register the presence of individuals in the protected area. Similar to locks and door status switches, there are a wide variety of such devices available. It is not important to decide on which device to use during the physical survey, it is only important to note the need for such a device.

SIDEBAR: The Door Comes First

Each door characteristic has an impact on the lock chosen for the door. Gather as much information as possible about the subject door before deciding on the locking mechanism to use. Consider the following when selecting the lock type for an opening:
  1. The nature and construction of the door.
  2. The door swing (inward swing or outward swing).
  3. The height of the door. (Do not use locks that are installed at the door header on very tall doors. This causes the door to warp.)
  4. The material the door is made of (in judging the application of electric latches).
  5. The ability to bring low voltage electrical power to various points on the doorframe.
  6. The type of control devices that will be used on the door. (Egress controls are sometimes necessary in certain application and will dictate the use of special hardware or locks that do not work with existing door hardware.)
  7. The applicable fire codes that govern the use of the door.