West Virginia College Upgrades Exit Devices

To ensure better security for its student housing facilities, Bethany College has upgraded to the new Von Duprin XP99 exit devices on its controlled access dormitory doors to withstand greater abuse. These exit devices incorporate a deadbolt latching feature that prevents users from forcing the latch out of the jam or roller strike bar.

Bethany, a small college of national distinction, was founded in 1840 by Alexander Campbell, an educator, Christian reformer and debater, who provided land and funds for the first building and served as the College’s first president. The four-year private liberal arts college is located on a 1,300-acre campus in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, and has approximately 830 students representing 27 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 12 other countries.

Previously, the college had used conventional exit devices, which served well in most applications. However, dormitory doors sometimes were subject to abnormal abuse that resulted in security breaches. According to Locksmith Orien Hunter, some students would pull on the doors until they wandered and the latch disengaged from the roller strike, allowing the door to be opened. Other damage included broken lever trim and doorknobs.

Normally, the doors are controlled by a card access system to maintain building security. To monitor security, door position sensors (“prop alarms”) are networked to a central computer in the Dean of Students’ office, which also controls a central lockdown function for emergency use. Override keys are provided for maintenance and other limited applications.

At first, electric strikes were used to control student access, but they did not stand up to the abuse. Damaged door hardware compromised security and had to be repaired or replaced frequently.

In order to maintain the necessary security, Hunter worked with Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, which provided a sample of the company’s recently introduced XP99 exit device and assisted with installation. Once it proved successful, several doors in the remaining dormitories were retrofitted.

These devices incorporate a new patented center case that is based on the manufacturer's popular 98/99 series and adds a new latch bolt concept that delivers the industry’s highest level of exit device latching security. Upgrading to the new design is easy and affordable because it fits the same footprint as existing 98/99 devices, eliminating costly door prep changes. In addition, retrofit kits are available to convert the mechanism of existing 99 devices to the new XP99 function.

Bethany College used these kits to upgrade some of their devices, according to Hunter. To date, four buildings have been equipped with the new devices, with additional replacements planned. About a year-and-a-half after the first devices were installed, Hunter says they have prevented recurrences of the damages that occurred before.

“They are more secure because the latchbolt prevents someone from pulling it out of the roller strike,” Hunter said. “As we replace the existing exit devices, we are going to use the XP devices because they are doing what we require.”

To help deter and detect any vandalism to the dormitory exteriors, Ingersoll Rand installed several digital CCTV cameras. Additional door security measures at the college include Schlage computer managed (CM) standalone control lock sets in areas such as laboratories and the campus radio station.

These are easily programmed using a PDA or laptop computer. Audit trail information can be downloaded to the computer in the same way. Hunter says other compatible products used on campus include LCN door closers, Schlage Primus locks and Ives vandal-resistant (VR) trim.

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