College and university campuses are responsible for thousands of students every year, so it is imperative that campus security and safety is made a priority by university officials and facility managers. Below are some items that must be considered by facility managers as they work to keep their campus safe.
Mass Notification System
In the event of an emergency, it's important that you have a emergency communication system in place to communicate with the campus as a whole quickly and efficiently. This system will be used for things like a tornado warning, so you can notify staff and students to find a safe shelter until the threat has passed.
Emergency Evacuation Routes and Plans
Closely related is making sure that evacuation routes are posted throughout every building on campus, so students know how to safely exit if a fire occurs. This is not only required by law, it will also increase the chances that every student makes it out unharmed if there is a fire. Other Emergency Action Plans should be clearly posted as well, such as where to go in the event of a tornado. Consider also setting up one or more centralized tornado shelters, if your campus is located in an area that's at high risk for experiencing one of these scary and dangerous events.
Controlling access to the buildings on campus is a key part of maintaining security, as you only want authorized people to be able to enter. This should be a cornerstone of your overall security strategy, especially in the dorms. Knowing that only students with a valid ID can open the doors in the dorms by scanning or swiping them, ensures that no unwanted intruders are able to gain access. Just like you want to lock your doors in your own home at night, students want to know that when they're sleeping in their home while on campus, the building is locked up tight.
You can either use short-range IF chips in the students' ID cards or opt for a magnetic strip on the back that they can swipe through a reader. These types of access control systems are tied into a central database, which can also log the entry times for each individual ID. This is helpful if there's a curfew in place that should be enforced. The database will also recognize if an expired student ID is used, and it will deny access.
Work with a trusted vendor to ensure your dormitories are safe and up to all fire codes and regulations. These codes are critically important to help ensure your students’ safety and to reduce your liability.
Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors
With a large number of students living and sleeping in a single building, early warning that a fire is happening is critical. It takes time to wake and evacuate that many people, even in a well-designed structure, so a loud and centralized fire alarm system is crucial. This gives students a way to quickly signal everyone if they see a fire, and it also lets campus security personnel and the local fire department know so they can respond. Smoke detectors are also part of the required fire code, and their beeping alarm can save lives – especially in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping.
These systems also save lives, and they can either extinguish a fire or slow it down long enough for people to evacuate without injury. They can also contain a blaze until the fire department arrives – limiting property damage. These systems should be inspected regularly and tested, to maintain code compliance and ensure that they'll respond correctly if they're needed.
Fire Exits, Fire Doors and Extinguishers
As already mentioned, an enclosed exit stairwell or corridor is likely required in a multi-story dorm building to provide appropriate means of egress. These should have a one or two hour fire resistance rating – which will give students plenty of time to evacuate. Also be sure to test the exit lighting above these doors to ensure they are functioning properly, so students will be safely directed to the exits in case of an emergency.
If there are fire doors in the hallways, these should also be checked at regular intervals and tested. These will then close automatically if a fire is detected, providing more protection for people inside the building and hindering the fire's ability to spread and cause more property damage or personal injury.
Giving staff and students the tools that they need to respond to a fire correctly, will also help to maintain their safety at all times. Fire extinguishers can be a tremendous tool, as they provide an immediate option for putting out a fire that springs up. This quick intervention can save thousands or even millions in property damage, and save lives too. Consider providing fire extinguisher training for university personnel if they are expected to use these devices, as this is required by regulations.
Specialized Fire Suppression
Universities often have labs with expensive equipment and flammable or dangerous chemicals present. To protect the large investment that these labs represent and the buildings which they are housed within, you may want to consider a specialized fire suppression system. This will be rated to extinguish the types of fires that might occur in the lab, which a water fire sprinkler system would not be able to achieve. This can also prevent the spread of toxic gases from these kinds of fires, by quickly extinguishing the blaze as soon as it starts.
CCTV and video monitoring is cheaper and easier to set up than ever before, making these excellent additions to your security infrastructure. This gives university security personnel an easy way to keep an eye on sensitive areas, or just the campus as a whole.
In addition, your entire campus can be professionally monitored 24/7/365, by an off-site facility designed for this purpose. The whole of your security system can be watched over in this way, so if an intrusion is detected or a fire occurs, the authorities will be notified immediately. This type of professional monitoring service gives you peace of mind, as you'll know that someone is always watching out for the security of your campus and the safety of your students.
Trust the experts at Koorsen to help keep your campus and students safe. We can install, inspect and service your campus security system, fire suppression systems, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers; as well as, inspect and service fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm and security monitoring. Call 888-456-8038 or contact us online for a free hazard analysis.