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Secure The Workplace With Facilities Managers

19 June 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Employee theft, property crime and information security are all major concerns today, with more than 1.2 million shoplifters and dishonest employees apprehended in 2014 (up from 2013.) Desperation crime is also now well established across the UK as an official issue.

Fire and rescue services in Great Britain also overall attended 212,500 fires in 2013 – 14, which was a 10% increase on the year previous.

In response, companies are looking at ways to invest in technology such as fire protection systems, video surveillance, intrusion detection devices, CCTV and access control, taking on board latest trends towards intelligent buildings, all essentially to protect three things: people, assets and increasingly today, data or information.

All these technologies, in the hands of competent and capable security officers, can reduce property liability, cut material losses, and keep people safe. But keeping staff trained on separate, stand-alone systems can be challenging and must be addressed as part of broader security objectives.

And in today’s more restrained times with an uncertain journey to full economic recovery ahead, every investment is likely to be scrutinised far more closely, so it is essential to build a strong case from the ground up to protect assets and people. Cont/d…


People protection

The people side in theory is the more relatively straightforward, to protect employees and occasional visitors. But often in practice, the truth is it may present a far more complex picture of protecting the general public and a wide range of different employees, especially in line with latest health, fire and safety issues.

Today’s security concerns also include catering for an increase in temporary and part time staff. And staff mix and turnover generally is now much higher in many organisations.

This has real implications for managing staff identities and access privileges and the simmering increase in levels of stealing by staff and the general public must be considered in any security upgrade decision.


Asset Protection

The assets range from the protection of physical buildings, to security equipment, through managing data.

This current rise in ‘inhouse burglary’ ranges from petty theft of supplies that can be re-sold easily or used in domestic homes could easily extend to concerted efforts to steal higher value assets such as IT equipment.

The latter then creates an additional security risk. Whilst the cost of replacing an 18 month old laptop is not bank breaking, the confidential and identity related data contained on a stolen laptop is far more valuable in the wrong hands and opens up the organisation to a very different level of criticism and legal challenge.


Protecting People and Assets

The key areas of emphasis for securing people and assets – authentication, identity and auditing – haven’t changed regardless of the size of the commercial building, its location or the level of security risks that need to be addressed today.

But changes in how and where companies do business with all kinds of flexible and home working options now available for staff, along with rapid technological advances and bring your own device programmes, are all driving innovations in the security industries that are beginning to impact on commercial building operations as well.

And within this area it is also vital to introduce simple and effective solutions that can be understood by all generations, as opposed to high tech convoluted options that may be lost on those less technically able (or just annoying for those in a hurry!)

Fire prevention measures must also not be forgotten, especially with increasing number of forces not attending incidents where automatic fire alarms have sounded unless there is confirmation of a fire. Real time visual verification is becoming increasingly significant.

As a consequence, there is now so many potential combinations and solutions for each fire and security challenge, that the choice itself has become a problem for time and resource stretched facilities and security managers.


Hurdle rate

One way to choose between the different options available is to use a simple planning tool in business. We call it the ‘hurdle rate,’ where the estate management team may consider the answers to the following questions:

  • How many hurdles or barriers do you need to erect to deter or prevent a risk to security?

  • How long do you need each hurdle to deter?

  • What is the likelihood of detection and what is the response time on alarm (fire and intruder?)

  • What are the consequences of failure?

In critical areas it is perfectly appropriate to invest in several barriers to entry, with clear alarms and response times and routines. At the same time, there will be other zones which will not require anywhere near the same hurdle rate to provide an adequate balance between security, risk and cost.

By assessing fire and security requirements in this way, the need to purchase additional systems can be justified as necessary at a time when every expense must bring return-on-investment (either by loss prevention, premium rental income or increased staff retention or obvious satisfaction.)

This is something Amthal Fire & Security do as standard in the initial design process, from which our team of surveyors and system design engineers would develop a bespoke fire and security specification that can be implemented in line with budget allocations and planned maintenance works.



There is no doubt that for the commercial sector, fire and security is a complex and challenging issue and this opinion piece has really only scratched the surface.

This is not only considered in light of the major shift in social and technology trends that are making such a big impact in the business communications landscape, but also considering the continued acceptance to respond to the prospects of a long drawn-out economic recovery.

These factors alter the dynamics of fire and security planning and forces designers and specifiers working with private sector developments to consider ‘people’ and ‘assets’ on a much deeper level with much greater focus than just a good choice of fire prevention, access control and other security devices.

A carefully considered system, integrated in a flexible and scalable building automation system allows multiple systems to be used at once, expands applications of fire and security for least cost, and protects the system’s capital investment from becoming obsolete in the near future.

Today - when facilities management meets fire and security - to achieve maximum results requires a blending of physical security, policies and procedures as well as technology to obtain a safe and secure environment for everyone who works and visits a site. Cont/d…


Do you agree with this opinion?

Feel free to respond on our LinkedIn page where we will be hosting our piece and seeking comments on how security issues have affected your workplace:

By Jamie Allam of Amthal Fire & Security

Article written by ThisWeekinFM | Published 19 June 2015


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