ISO Plays Role in Developing Premises Security Document to Make Buildings Safer

ISO reportedly played a major role recently in the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) development of a new premises security document intended to make residential and commercial buildings safer from terrorism attacks.

The document – NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security – which is available from NFPA by calling 1-800-344-3555, has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

At the request of ISO’s Engineering & Safety Service (E&S) in 1999, the NFPA undertook the premises security project. Allan Apo, senior technical manager-E&S, chaired the NFPA task group assigned to developing the comprehensive Guide for Premises Security.

“In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and with the uncertainty surrounding the renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, insurers and property owners need information on ways to assess and mitigate potential terrorism losses to residential and commercial buildings,” said William Hauswirth, senior vice president of AISG Technical Advisory Services. “The methodology recommended in the guide will help them meet those objectives.”

Congress enacted the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act as a federal reinsurance backstop in 2002 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help mitigate excessive property losses sustained by insurers in the future. TRIA will expire on Dec. 31, 2005, unless Congress renews the legislation. If the act is not renewed, insurers will face significant uncertainty about providing terrorism coverage.

NFPA 730 describes construction, protection, occupancy features and practices to reduce security threats to life and property. The guide provides information on assessing security vulnerabilities and developing a security plan to reduce those vulnerabilities. It covers security measures for specific types of occupancies, including office buildings, shopping centers, residences, hotels and motels, academic institutions and health-care facilities.

“The 9/11 terrorist attacks exposed the serious deficiencies to security in commercial buildings,” said Allan Apo, the chairman of the NFPA task group. “While homeland security at the government level encompasses public safety and protection of critical infrastructures, such as transportation and utilities, in general, there is nothing comparable for the security of ‘soft targets’ like residential and commercial buildings.

“The NFPA’s reputation as the premier code- and standards-writing organization provides timely encouragement to building code officials and municipalities to seriously consider minimum security requirements for various types of occupancies,” he added.

ISO has also proposed that the NFPA consider the development of a model security code for one- and two-family dwellings. “While some municipalities have residential security provisions in their building codes, most of those provisions are limited to locking devices. A model code would address other aspects of residential security, including provisions for unobstructed view, door construction and hardware, window construction and hardware, building lighting and burglar alarm systems,” Apo said.