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    Reconciling Fire Safety and Security Requirements for Buildings

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    Conflicts between fire safety and security for buildings arise from the public official's demands that a building incorporate sufficient safeguards to protect the public from fire, while the occupant's primary interest may lie in protecting himself from personal attacks and his property from theft and vandalism. The means used to achieve an adequate level of protection for each hazard often appears contradictory, but there should be no unresolvable conflicts within a framework of reasonable rules for fire safety and security, wherein each is sensitive to the needs of the other. Many similarities exist in terminology, goals, and risk analysis, but while fire protection measures have been well codified over the years, security requirements have not found their way into building codes and standards. One exception is a building code for an international airport complex, which contains a chapter on physical security, prepared by the author. Several reasons are cited for the need to incorporate physical security requirements in building codes.

    One of the principal conflicts between fire safety and security is in the locking of exit doors to prevent uncontrolled egress. Several solutions are possible, and examples are offered to minimize the problem. Standardization will permit more equitable treatment of security needs from the authorities having jurisdiction; such standards can be prepared by organizations like ASTM, ASIS or NBS to promote the orderly inclusion of physical security measures in buildings.


    building security, building codes, security/fire safety conflicts, fire safety, security levels

    Author Information:

    Cohn, BM
    Senior vice president, Gage-Babcock and Associates, Elmhurst, Ill.

    Committee/Subcommittee: F12.30

    DOI: 10.1520/STP28081S