Guard Booths/Shacks

Designing a Guard Building, Guard Shack or Security Booth is interesting. First the designer needs to consider the functionality of the building, the level of security required, and how that security capability is designed to work when it is put to the test. The designer will likely need to think about the aesthetics of the building as well, so it fits in with its surroundings.

Let's first address the building's functionality. What is the attendant's function; will a window or door opening be involved in his or her function; is there a need for a transfer of documents, cash, credit cards; how many people will be occupying the building; is there a need for restroom facilities in the building or other separate rooms like a storage room or office; what windows and doors are needed; heat; A/C - this is the easy part.

Now, let's design the security aspects of the Guard Building. Is bullet resistant design important, and if so, what level of protection. UL 752 and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) have the two most commonly used standards for bullet resistant materials. As a general statement the higher the level of protection the higher the cost. UL 752 has set 10 levels of B/R (bullet resistant) protection. Each buyer needs to determine which level of protection meets their protection expectations. In our experience, most commercial buyers focus on UL 752 Level III which is designed to protect against 3 shots from a .44 Magnum, because the .44 Magnum is the most powerful and popular handgun. The next most popular level of protection buyers seem to focus on is UL 752 Level IV or VIII. Level IV B/R (bullet resistant) protection is designed to stop a 30.06 rifle shot, while UL 752 Level VIII will protect against 5 .308 NATO cartridge shots.

Generally speaking, buyers buy B/R protection for both a building's glazing (glass windows) and walls, including doors. Again, generally speaking, a buyer will buy a bullet resistant shroud for a thru wall A/C unit, but will not buy bullet resistant protection for the building's roof or floor which are generally considered extra's, but can be included if the threat risk so dictates. Some buyers buy only bullet resistant glass leaving the wall panels unprotected. Bullet resistant glass usually will have a small label in a bottom corner indicating the level of threat protection and to some buyers implies to employees and/or assailants that the glass is "bullet resistant".

B/R glass is interesting because it comes in several forms. The most popular is laminated multi-layered tempered safety glass and "glass clad poly". This material is very heavy, generally the least expensive, and the most resistant to pitting from blowing dust, dirt and/or sand, and is the easiest to keep clean. "Poly", also available, is lighter and the "Poly" format is easier to work, drill, etc. "Poly", however, if written on by a magic marker as in a graffiti situation, cannot be cleaned as the Poly will be permanently marked by the marker.

B/R wall panels are usually B/R protected with the use of bullet resistant steel plate. Bullet resistant steel plate is the same material used in all NATO military Humvees, personnel carriers, etc. Kevlar, popular for personal B/R protection, is lighter-weight but more expensive and prone to losing its B/R qualities if wet. B/R plastic FRP mesh, while popular in interior bank B/R protection, is seldom used in factory-built buildings because the cutting of this material produces a fine dust that can irritate the skin of the individual working the material.

So, now most curious people want to know how B/R materials are tested. First, it is important to distinguish between the terms bullet proof and bullet resistant. Bullet proof would suggest that no bullet will penetrate the material in question. The power to penetrate can vary tremendously depending on the size of the bullet, distance, type and amount of gun powder, so the term bullet resistant evolved, as did the need to establish a standard to test this bullet resistance against. Therefore, U.L., the National Institute of Justice and others have established bullet resistance standards based on certain key ballistics criteria which usually include distance, caliber, weight of bullet, velocity, and number of shots.

Next, bullets that meet these criteria are fired in a controlled environment at materials that are being tested. Generally speaking, the test results are pretty clear - if the bullet does not penetrate through the test sample, the test is considered a "pass". If the material is penetrated the test is a "fail". The U.S. government is particularly careful in the testing of B/R plate before it can be used in any government application. A sample of each "heat" when B/R plate is made is sent to a ballistics lab for testing prior to the material being shipped from the steel mill. Once this material is successfully ballistics-tested, it is shipped and once received, a sample of the shipped material will undergo a 2nd ballistics test before the material is actually released for fabrication. It is interesting to note that B/R plate is a very high, carbon-content steel which is so dirty to make that while it is used often in this country, it is made for us and all NATO countries in Canada where environmental standards allow its manufacture.

B/R protection can protect the individuals inside buildings, but designers need to consider how or if the occupants are to respond to an actual threat. Some designers will include gun ports in the wall of the building. Others will include gun or firing slots. All of us have likely seen examples of both of these in a "regular" Brink's truck. Both indicate to an intruder that an occupant or occupants have the ability to return fire. The gun or firing slot, as it is bigger than a gun port, offers a larger range of firing positions. Increasingly, government installations are featuring exterior perimeter B/R "planters" or concrete barriers that allow a more active military response. Pre-thinking the likely direction the threat will come from and the likely direction for the return of fire in response to the threat is currently a very active part of planning the layout of security positions. The effort here is to layout the security position in such a way as to increase the likelihood that gun fire will not inadvertently be destined to land in highly populated areas.

The successful execution of the security function will likely involve communication from individuals inside of the Guard Building. This communication may well involve both verbal communications as well as the passing back and forth of documents, credit cards and/or cash. While B/R doors are heavy, sliding doors are usually preferred over swing doors for this function. Pass thru drawers which can be just enough for credit cards or large enough for a case of beer, are often used as are "talk thru devices" which penetrate the B/R glass while providing B/R protection are used, too.

In thinking about glass, there is one more consideration. Some designers like to design into a building "one way" glass so the building's occupants can see what is going on outside the building, while people outside the building cannot see inside the building or even if the building is occupied. A building with "one way" glass, it would seem, provides an implied threat to all comers who cannot determine if the building is occupied and active or not.

No discussion of a Guard Building is complete without a discussion about adequate lighting. Adequate lighting is a great deterrent for close-in assailants and makes all inspection efforts more effective. A Gate Access Canopy can be used to provide a consistent level of adequate lights without creating blind spots. Longer range assailants are not as easily detected by the use of lighting.

Austin Mohawk buildings will be designed with your security needs in mind. Any building with a heavy load of computer terminals will need additional air conditioning considerations to handle the additional heat created by the computer terminals. The completed buildings will be delivered to the site completely built, with all electric installed and ready for hook up. Just unload the building, set it, anchor it, and hook up 3 wire nuts and you are in the security business! If plumbing is part of the building, it too can be delivered fully-installed. Factory-built, prefabricated buildings offer a very high level of consistent quality and are built to meet the various National and State codes.

Who We Worked With
ge us army Exxon Mobil citgo chevron budget bp BJs avis 7 Eleven giant harvard IBM kbr ohare metLife Stadium kroger shell nypd national boston logan kiewit home goods hensel phelps construction co whiting turner yale ups united technologies turner us navy groton ct toronto pearson us naval academy sunoco parris isl suffolk veterans affairs stop shop us border patrol smith Wesson westpoint us army corps of engineers quantico skanska royal farms rite aid pratt and whitney pilot orlando airport fort stewart fort hood fort detrick fluor cumberland farms clark construction ch2mhill centro central parking bwi amana mcgann