Last month, NFPA hosted the Building Safety and Security (BS&S) Workshop, which brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to address targeted violence issues, and to collectively prioritize the next layers of “security safety” to be written into codes, planning documents, and related outreach materials.
Over two days of lively debate and discussion, participants reviewed the current building, life safety, and fire code provisions for elements such as egress and systems design, then identified new solutions, strategies, and building features. They were further asked to identify priority solutions to integrate, balance, and blend security-related goals and objectives into the range of built environment regulations.
While the conversation must continue, and the balance between fire codes and security protocols will continue to evolve, this workshop brought to light a number of important topics:
- The built environment requires changes in both the short- and long-term. While attention is necessary today to ensure buildings are utilizing approved hardware (such as proper door locking mechanisms), strategies must be agreed upon in the long-term on how to better integrate built-in alarms/notification procedures and related systems for both fire and targeted violence events.
- Codes themselves need further attention to raise awareness of and enhance current requirements. On one hand, more attention needs to be paid to existing codes including the fact that several solutions already exist. Education, training, and awareness programs can allow the beneficial aspects of existing code requirements to further its reach and potentially save lives. On the other hand, attention must be given to the enhancement of existing codes to bring in certain elements that specifically address security. The expectation is that the code will need to evolve, and a process that enables more agile rollout of new provisions to allow for faster implementation will be necessary to keep up with building security needs.
- Smart building integration will be key to ensuring building safety and security in the future. In addition to further automation, security and safety systems within buildings will need to speak with each other in order to determine best messaging options for building occupants. This new frontier will require significant technology upgrades over time and strict attention to cybersecurity.
- While technology improvements will help buildings become more safe and secure, education for occupants is just as important. Curriculum development that balances traditional life safety and security needs can be utilized by school administrators, facility managers, fire/life safety directors, environmental health and safety professionals and plan developers to enable occupants to think clearly and make potentially life-saving decisions during an emergency situation.
Moving foward, we will use the full report to advance future editions of NFPA codes and standards, and to further clarify provisions for enhancing the security needs of occupant in the interim. We will also develop resources that highlight existing code requirements and guidelines, while developing additional, longer-term efforts and initiatives.
Please feel free to share your comments and feedback after reviewing the report. I welcome any and all questions and input.