Security (Burglary) Bars

Recently, I was reading some information on Security (Window/Burglary) Bars and thought that I would share. This Blog contains information from the US Fire Administration/Technical Report Series (Homeland Security). This is definitely "Food for thought." An operational Alarm System is so effective, and certainly does not contribute to mortality.

For additional copies of this report write to the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Data Center,
16825 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727 or via USFA Web page at http://www.
usfa.dhs.gov.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Burglar bars, also known as security or window bars, can be found on any type of structure
– single-family home, apartment building, storefronts. The bars provide a visible sign of
security serving as both a deterrent to potential burglars, and a reassurance to those who
had the bars installed. However, burglar bars can also be dangerous, preventing residents and other
occupants from escaping in the event of a fire and leading to fatalities.


Based on data obtained from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), on average about
25 civilians are injured or die each year in fires where escape is compromised by unauthorized bars
or gates. The actual numbers may be larger than that, due to the fact that the presence of burglar bars
is not always collected in a way that is recorded by NFIRS (e.g., written in text but not coded). The
most recent version of NFIRS, version 5.0, allows for the collection of data concerning burglar bars;
however, data from the new version is not yet available.


Most fatalities/injuries involving burglar bars occur in residences, when people become entrapped
by the very bars that are supposed to protect them. Children, the elderly, the mobility impaired, and
firefighters are especially vulnerable. The bars also can hamper rescue efforts, especially the efforts
of those who arrive before public safety personnel.


Due to the fire egress risk posed by burglar bars, most building codes regulate their installation/use.
Several states have passed legislation specific to burglar or security bars. Generally, the codes and
legislation require that burglar bars have some form of quick-release mechanism, enabling rapid
escape in case of fire. Furthermore, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code
101 addresses the risk posed by unauthorized bars, stating that a window or other means of escape
should be operable from the inside “without the use of tools, keys, or special effort."

The threat of being burgled or having their residence broken into is more real to them than the threat of being trapped in a fire. Burglar bars provide a quick, obvious, and relatively easy solution. The presence of non-compliant burglar bars-those not consistent with modern code-results in many difficulties.

The hazards primarily affect those who live behind them, but can affect both civilian and fire department rescuers once a fire has started.


The installation of the bars leads to the creation of a prison-like condition-the occupants may feel
safe, but they have severely limited their avenues of egress. By blocking windows with bars, they are
ensuring that alternative escape paths through windows are no longer an option.

The occupant’s risk from the unsafe burglar bars is compounded greatly where there is no working
smoke alarm. With the early warning provided by a working smoke alarm, people have a chance to
extinguish an incipient fire or leave through exits. Anecdotal evidence suggest that when there are
multiple fatalities due to burglar bar entrapment, there often is not a working smoke alarm. It should
be noted that the model building codes will often require smoke alarms be installed in dwellings
where security bars have been installed.


Just as burglar bars keep criminals out, they also keep rescuers out. Neighbors of victims entrapped by bars frequently state that they tried to rescue the people as they called for help, but were denied entry due to the presence of burglar bars. Pry bars, axes even car jacks have been known to be used by neighbors in an attempt to gain entry to assist victims prior to the arrival of fire department units... sometimes with success, often without. Regardless, the bars often significantly delay entry into the structure, and rescue, by neighbors.

How can we assist you? OLYMPIC SECURITY & COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS is your Low Voltage expert: Security Systems, Camera/Closed Circuit TV Systems, Smoke Detectors, Fire Alarm Systems, Home Theater.

Call: 800-540-7233

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Call us! 800-540-SAFE (7233). We will Clarify what you would like, Identify what you need, Define any Problems or Concerns - then provide you with a proposal. Our goal is to provide the BEST system for YOU.

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