Electronic Security Elevates Its Education Market Standards

Find out why security dealers and integrators are key to the success of Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS).

PASS to Crusade for Code Adoption

PASS members view their “Safety and Security Guidelines” as a living, breathing document that’s intended to be continually analyzed and amended as needed. They are also adamant that one day some version of the guidelines be set in code stone. A pipe dream? Doubters beware.

“Industry support will be the key. I’ve seen many examples in the past where a common industry guideline has become a de facto standard and then evolves to be incorporated into a building code,” says NSCA Executive Director Chuck Wilson, who serves as a PASS steering committee director. “I’d like to see that evolution occur here.”

A victorious example: In 1996, Wilson teamed with Scott Lord, director of innovation and national accounts for Kansas City, Mo.-based systems integrator All Systems, to establish a specification for mass notification and emergency communications (MNEC). Their goal was to have the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) incorporate it into its building fire codes. Both men, assisted by others, stayed on the case. In 2002, fire officials adopted the MNEC spec into the NFPA code. Then in 2007, the first version of that code was published.

As a PASS steering committee director, Lord’s lobbying efforts are being leveraged once again in tandem with Wilson and other stakeholders. Currently, the PASS guideline layers for perimeters and tiers for exterior areas are being incorporated into the code, Lord says. PASS and NFPA will be working together to modify some of the PASS document so that it can be incorporated as an Annex to NFPA 730 and 731.

“PASS is now part of the Technical Committee for NFPA 730 and 731, which are standards and guidelines for security. PASS is also on the Educational Task Group within the Technical Committee,” he says. “This is our first step in influencing changing codes for K-12 schools. The process to changing code is long and challenging, but PASS is uniquely suited to effect change.”

Installing security contractors can have a persuasive voice in championing code adoption, Lord says.

“Integrators should be familiar with NFPA 730 and 731, and [can] educate the local school districts and AHJs of the standards already in place,” he says. “The NFPA documents have a
wealth of knowledge and by adopting those codes locally, integrators have the opportunity to set a standard for school security that at this point has not been established.”

Integrators Are Wanted to Jump Aboard the Bandwagon

Long before code adoption ever comes to pass, PASS will have to rely heavily on an extended community of educators, vendors, consultants, public safety officials and others to actively promote the technology standards. The organization is aligned with groups such as school safety awareness nonprofit Safe and Sound, founded by PASS member Michele Gay, who lost a child in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The Electronic Security Association (ESA) – which re-leased its Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools document in 2013 – is also involved in PASS efforts. “We have been very pleased to have representatives of ESA participate in PASS, and, in our document, we list that group’s [guidelines] as a key resource for stakeholders to consult,” says Hawkins. “No organization or set of recommendations can have all of the answers, and we hope people will view our guidelines as both valuable in and of themselves and complementary to the work of others.”

Here again, installing security contractors are being looked to as a vital component to any success PASS achieves in gaining traction. “The system integrators are the integration experts and their support and use of the guidelines and other tools are vital for our success,” Wilson says. “Endorsing and promoting PASS with every K-12 client is key.”

Integrators that already ply the K-12 marketplace, even extensively, still have much to gain from endorsing and applying the guidelines, according to PASS Chairman Brett St. Pierre, who serves as director of education solutions for HID Global. Dealers and integrators that work with local schools may be limited to understanding regional needs and not following trends, he explains.

“Understanding our perspective may provide additional insight or ideas that can be deployed in their region,” St. Pierre says. “Our tier approach provides stepping stones vs. just providing a single solution without growth, which happens a lot. By following these guidelines it provides a roadmap to additional security tiers that schools may not be budgeted for today.”

Schools like to know what other schools have implemented as well as their success stories. For an integrator to share another success story using the PASS guideline brings validity to what the integrator is presenting, St. Pierre suggests. “Whether it was provided by another integrator or not it brings validity to what they are presenting and how the system will be deployed,” he says.

The PASS guideline does not contain anything that integrators focused in the K-12 marketplace do not already know. What it does provide is a benchmark that school officials can understand. When dealers and integrators utilize the PASS guidelines, they have an advantage of educating and assisting the school or school district in strategically instituting processes and technology that heightens security awareness. The biggest advantage is the tiered approach that makes school safety a culture and not a one-off project, Lord says.

“As an integrator, the biggest role we can play is to educate our schools in the area of security. At the end of the day, integrators want a sale; however, PASS provides a standard that integrators can influence, use and enhance to make our schools safer,” Lord says. “The schools want the education; the integrator’s role s to provide that education.”


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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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