Holding an Open Door
Putting a stop to propped doors
- By Mark Crandall
- Apr 01, 2016
A top tier university serving more than 40,000
students needed a cost effective way to
improve the level of security at its non-card
access controlled doors. It is common practice
throughout the campus to have card reader
access control at the main entrance of the
facilities, but the side and back doors are
often not included as part of this system.
The school did not want to limit egress through these doors, but did
want to make sure that they stayed secured and locked when not in
use. It was not uncommon to find these unmonitored doors propped
open as students would use the side doors as shortcuts, providing an
opportunity for unwanted intruders to just walk in and take advantage
of the situation.
A Policy Change
After trying multiple options including new policy statements and putting
up signs on the doors to deter door propping, the university decided
that some form of device would be needed to make sure that the doors
stayed closed and locked from the outside. The director of security and
his staff started out with a homemade design using discreet components
such as timer modules, relays and sounders to make various configurations
of door alarms for the non-card access controlled doors.
While in low volumes this was acceptable, it quickly became a nuisance
and was not cost effective for the installers to put together the
different configurations of door alarms that were needed for the various
entry and exit applications.
After producing several different custom built products and looking
at commercially available produced options, they standardized on the
Designed Security, Inc. ES4200 Door Management Alarms.
The versatility of the ES4200 proved to be just the product for use
on the various doors throughout a variety of campus facilities. The
university first used the Door Prop Alarms at the residence halls where
they had issues of propped exit doors. Typically these doors exited to
the parking areas or side yards and were used by the students as a
“We did not want to fully stop people from using the doors to exit,
but wanted to ensure the door would be closed and not remain
propped open.” said the director of security. “We used the ES4200-
K1-T0 and set the timer so that it allowed students to exit using the
emergency exits, and if the door was not closed it would give a local
alarm after a preset period of time, typically 10 seconds.”
A Remote Alarm
If the local alarm was not responded to in a reasonable period of time,
a remote alarm signal could be sent back to the security desk and
someone would be dispatched to make sure the door was secure. The
availability of a key switch on the unit also allowed university staff
local control to override or shunt the device for events or building
Once the usefulness and versatility of the product was tested and
proven on the dormitory doors, the university found other applications
for the device. For emergency exit doors the ES4200 could be
configured as an exit alarm that would alarm immediately if a security
door was opened from the inside or outside of the building.
The product also fit well into library locations where doors must be
secured and monitored at all times. Units installed in the library triggered
an immediate alarm, which was sent to a local display panel and
through an interface with the access control system, pulled up a video
camera image of the door in question.
With the installation of the door management alarm, this university
found a versatile, cost effective, easy to install product that they could
standardize on for many of their door monitoring and alarming applications.
With its field selectable timing and input/output options that
can be used stand alone or in conjunction with the existing access
control system, the system met all of the requirements.
The university now has a way to monitor
and manage non-access controlled doors
throughout the campus, and by doing so has
improved the security and safety of their students,
faculty and their property.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Security Today.
About the Author
Mark Crandall is the operations manager and vice president at Designed Security, Inc.