The 'New World' Challenge

Sept. 11, 2001, changed our lives forever. Since then, we have experienced additional security measures in all areas of our lives. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, “Private-sector preparedness is not a luxury; it is a cost of doing business in the post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a tremendous potential cost in lives, money and national security.”

To respond to this new world challenge, we must strengthen an organization’s security layers of protection by combining the best of modern security techniques with proven life safety practices. One obvious response to this challenge: we find more closed-circuit cameras in buildings, more security at airports and more interest by the media on what still needs to be done.

Just as a fire alarm system has become a standard part of the electrical contractor’s electrical installation package, security systems now make their way into owner demands, government requirements and engineering specifications.

In the past, whenever security issues surfaced during installations, many contractors encountered a problem. Minimum security standards that everyone should follow simply did not exist. Because of this lack of minimum national standards, professional contractors had to rely on knowledgeable subcontractors to assist them to meet the owner’s requests.

The application and type of security protection chosen for each installation came from a security alarm-installing subcontractor’s best guess or past experience. Sometimes this created an appropriate design. Other times, the design failed to meet the owner’s needs. In either case, the designs never had consistency.

Today, however, the professional electrical contractor has help available to ensure consistency of application and installation reliability for building security systems. This help comes from two new documents from the National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 730-2006, Guide for Premises Security, and NFPA 731-2006, Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems.

The NFPA Standards Council issued NFPA 730-2006 and NFPA 731-2006 on July 29, 2005, with an effective date of Aug. 18, 2005, and approval as American National Standards (ANSI) on Aug. 18, 2005. These documents provide the professional electrical contractor with excellent new tools to develop additional business opportunities.

NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security, addresses the application of security principles based on the occupancy of the protected space. NFPA 731, Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems, addresses the installation of security systems equipment. Both of these documents will help electrical contractors to expand their capabilities. They will also give owners a security system design that will meet their needs.

NFPA 730-2006 describes construction, protection guidelines, occupancy features, and practices intended to reduce security vulnerabilities to life and property. The stated purpose of the guide: to provide criteria for the selection of a security program to reduce security vulnerabilities.

The recommendations apply to both new and existing buildings, structures and premises. They provide guidance for designing a security system for buildings or structures occupied or used in accordance with the individual facility chapters, as outlined in the occupancy chapters of the guide.

The purpose section of the guide states: “The guide addresses other considerations that are essential for protection of occupants, in recognition of the fact that security is more than a matter of having a security system.” And “the guide also addresses protective features and systems, building services, operating features, maintenance activities, and other provisions, in recognition of the fact that achieving an acceptable degree of safety depends on additional safeguards to protect people and property exposed to security vulnerabilities.”

The new Premises Security Guide begins with a fundamental recommendation that a designer should base a security program on a security vulnerability assessment (SVA).

“All public access facilities do not have identical security vulnerabilities, and thus there is no single set of ‘one size fits all’ security countermeasures,” said John Fannin, founder and president of Delaware-based SafePlace Corp. on the company Web site. “Groups of like facilities do, however, experience many common security issues. Many of these common security issues and examples of effective mitigation/counter measure techniques are provided in NFPA 730 through a ‘tool-box’ approach and provide valuable assistance to facility security planners when combined with a proven performance-based risk assessment methodology—the security vulnerability assessment (SVA). Accordingly, all facilities should conduct a security vulnerability assessment to determine the security countermeasures appropriate for their particular organization and potential threats.”

The SVA forms the core of any security plan. As Fannin states in his safety bulletin entitled National Standard of Care for Premises Security: “An SVA is a powerful technique for assessing the current status of an organization’s threat exposures, security measures and preparedness. The SVA, (described in Chapter 5 of NFPA 730), is a systematic and methodical process that examines an organization’s vulnerabilities, ways an adversary might exploit these vulnerabilities, and aids in the development and implementation of effective countermeasures.”

The contractor’s mission in supplying both fire detection and alarm systems and security systems remains the same: the protection of life and property.

However, Fannin states, “the journey now involves an important ‘dual approach,’ the integration of traditional life safety practices with today’s security methodologies to effectively address the adversarial event issue, strengthening security layers of protection, including whenever possible, the use of inherently safer technologies.”

The publication of NFPA 730 offers a significant step by providing guidance to all professional contractors who choose to add security system offerings to their marketing brochures.

Using NFPA 730 to understand various occupancies’ minimum security system requirements will now become the first step to meeting the owner’s needs. The second step will consist of installing the system in accordance with NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems.

NFPA 731-2006, offers an installation standard that establishes minimum requirements for application, installation, performance, testing and maintenance of physical security systems and components. It has a similar structure to NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm Code.

One of the major differences between NFPA 72 and NFPA 731 becomes apparent when you try to define who might serve the role of the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). With fire alarm system installations, you most often interface with a representative of the fire service: either an inspector, fire prevention officer or a fire marshal. With security systems, you might need to deal with a crime prevention officer or some other police or security official.

In the public security field, the crime prevention officer will likely have the reduction of the number of false security alarms, to which the police department must respond, as one of their top priorities. Through the application of NFPA 730 and promoting the use of NFPA 731, you will ensure that crime prevention officers understand your professional approach to electronic premises security system installations. They will appreciate the steps you take to help them meet their false alarm reduction goal by installing your systems to meet minimum national standards.

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 of NFPA 731 include the administration, referenced publications and definitions of electronic premises security systems. The purpose of the standard: to define the means of signal initiation, transmission, notification and annunciation; the levels of performance; and the reliability of electronic premises security systems.

The standard defines the features associated with these systems and also provides information necessary to modify or upgrade an existing system to meet the requirements of a particular application. The standard applies only to new installations and provides the information necessary to modify or upgrade an existing system to meet the requirements for a particular type of system.

NFPA 731 establishes minimum required levels of performance, extent of redundancy and quality of installation, but does not establish the only methods by which an installer can achieve these requirements.

You will find the fundamental system requirements, along with installation, wiring and design requirements, in Chapter 4 of the standard. The standard requires that the contractor perform the installation of all wiring, cable and equipment in a workmanlike manner in accordance with NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code (NEC) and, specifically, in accordance with Article 725 or 800, where applicable.

Unless specifically allowed by the manufacturer’s wiring specifications, the contractor must space low-voltage electronic premises security-system wiring at least 5.08 cm (2 in.) from conductors of any light and power circuits, unless the contractor has installed one of the circuits in metal raceway.

The standard permits systems other than electronic premises security systems to share components, equipment, circuitry and installation wiring with premises security systems. Chapter 4 also describes common system functions and typical system performance and limitations.

The standard has separate chapters that provide the minimum requirements for each subdivision of premises security systems, such as the following:

°Chapter 5, Intrusion Detection System

°Chapter 6, Electronic Access Control Systems

°Chapter 7, Video Surveillance Systems

°Chapter 8, Holdup, Duress and Ambush Systems

Chapter 5 includes requirements for exterior and interior detection systems as well as requirements for vault and safe protection. Chapter 6 includes the requirements for electronic access control systems, including the fundamental operation, administration tools and network interface device operation.

Chapter 7 contains requirements for video surveillance systems, including the requirements for cameras, how to deal with low-level lighting conditions, camera enclosures, mounting hardware and camera mounts, and the various lenses used in cameras.

Chapter 8 covers unique or special application systems, such as holdup, duress and ambush alarm systems. Each of these systems requires a different approach and therefore different installation requirements. For instance, the installation of holdup devices must meet the requirements of UL 681, Standard for Installation and Classification of Burglar and Holdup Alarm Systems.

A contractor must install fixed-in-place duress alarm initiating devices within 1.2 m (4 ft.) of the workstation. These initiating devices must remain accessible to the individuals responsible to use the devices from their normal work position. Portable duress alarm initiating devices must comply with ANSI/SIACP-01, Control Panel Standard—Features for False Alarm Reduction, section 4.2.4.

Of course, the contractor must locate Private Duress Alarm Systems alarm-initiating devices so that the public cannot observe them and so that a hostile party cannot observe the actuation of a duress alarm initiating device.

On the other hand, the contractor must locate public duress alarm system initiating devices so that the public can readily observe the devices.

The contractor must locate ambush alarm initiating devices in or adjacent to the mechanism that a user will operate to disarm the intrusion detection system. The user must initiate an ambush signal by entering a code sequence different from any code sequence used to perform any other operation in access control, intrusion detection, and holdup or duress systems.

The chapter covering testing and inspections provides some of the most important information. Chapter 9 covers what to do when someone impairs a system as well as the testing requirements for all of the systems included in the standard.

The standard includes inspection and testing reports in the standard for each of the covered systems: intrusion detection or holdup and duress systems, access control, video surveillance, and additional devices.

The standard has four annexes that contain a great deal of explanatory material for the contractor. The annexes include additional information to explain the requirements in the document as well as camera specifications and guidance on camera selection. The standard also includes informational references to assist the user.

Although entering the security market may seem like a daunting task, that marketplace has plenty of room for the professional contractor who takes the time to learn the market and develop his or her approach to the business using accepted guides and standards like NFPA 730 and NFPA 731. EC

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I., office.



About the Author

Wayne D. Moore

Fire/Life Safety Columnist
Wayne D. Moore, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a principal member and past chair of NFPA 72, Chapter 24. Moore is a vice president with JENSEN HUGHES at the Warwick, R.I., office. He c...

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