Does your security door do what it says on the tin?

The first time I had to slam a door shut to try and stop someone getting through it I ended up with a bruised face, ribs, and ego!

An irate gentleman had been prevented from going in via the front door of an establishment I was helping protect. He came around the back of the building to try his luck.

I was on my own supervising deliveries and monitoring staff coming and going for cigarette breaks etc, standing by a door leading to a delivery bay. The irate gentleman spotted me and immediately made a beeline for the door I was guarding, running at full pelt.

In the interests of self-preservation, he was a big lad, I slammed the door shut and got the snib engaged. The person I was trying to exclude didn’t bother to stop running and body slammed into the door. It sprang open and sent me flying. Fortunately my backup was on scene within seconds, they’d been monitoring him. They hadn’t told me that they were expecting trouble, but that’s another story!

Luckily for me, and my body parts, the intruder was quickly restrained and removed for a second time. This time he stayed away, as he was invited to become a guest for the night at a local hotel with bars in the windows.

Unfortunately he was not restrained before he had managed to kick me in the ribs as I was getting off the floor. I learned a lot about doors as a result of that incident!

You can’t take them on trust!

And they hurt a lot when you try and use your face as a doorstop!

OK, I can see the funny side today, but there is a serious lesson to be learned here.

How secure is a door?

Can you trust it to keep you safe if you have to rely on it to act as a solid barrier between you and someone wishing you harm?

Doors come in all shapes and sizes, made from all sorts of materials. More than that, a metal door that would take a tank to get through is useless if it hasn’t been installed properly. The surroundings are important as well. For example I never saw the point in installing an expensive security door in a room where the walls were made mostly from plasterboard. When the inevitable break-in did happen the door was fine, not a scratch on it. The bad guys simply took a section of wall out!

Then there’s the quality of the door jam, did the contractor use the right fittings? Only way to find out if you inherit a door is take everything apart and check. It won’t take long but how many people would? I mean a door is a door right? True, however the question we need to ask is it is it fit for purpose?

A lot goes into making a door secure – materials, fixing, surrounds, hinges, door locks, hinge locks and other security fittings. And lets not forget, location!

Its pointless having your most secure door street facing if it leads into a reception or waiting area. Chances are any trouble will already be behind it before anything kicks off.

And don’t be fooled by expense – just because a ‘security door’ almost broke your budget is no guarantee that its going to do its job. I opened a door that had cost almost £3k using a flat head screw driver. It took seconds and the look on the building managers face when I demonstrated how easy it was to bypass their new door was priceless!

Technology has come a long way since then but does the fact that you have very expensive, ‘high security’ doors mean that you have overestimated how safe they are making you and the people you want to protect?

There is a lot to be said for padlocks, bolts and security bars!

There is also a lot to be said for paying someone to actually carry out a controlled forced entry into your building. I was working in a building where such a test was carried out. We were monitoring activities from the control room via CCTV. The management team were all present. 90 seconds after the team tasked with testing the buildings physical security doors 2 of them were open and the team had penetrated the building and were knocking on the control room door to deliver their post action report.

Eye opening for the management team. I wasn’t surprised, I did 5 years in the military – doors were optional when entering buildings!

A few more things that need to be considered where ‘security doors’ are concerned.

When to use them? Are they permanently engaged or do they need to be shut in the event of a lock-down or someone identifying a problem?

Talking about lock-downs, when was the last time that you tested yours?

After you’ve initiated the lock-down, then what?

Talk to local police crime prevention and safety teams for advise on how to best secure your building in the event that the worst ever happens. Security consultants are worth their weight in gold and your existing security company should be able to offer help.

Don’t take that door on trust, make sure it will do its job – never forget, when seconds count the police are only ever minutes away!

As a postscript, the second time I slammed a door shut to stop someone getting into a building they broke several toes trying to kick it open.

Much less painful for me!