Protecting a building against both fire and theft can be a challenge. Security consultants recommend prioritising both types of security, depending on whether or not people are located inside the building.
Fire safety and theft protection are two safety and security objectives that, unfortunately, often work against one another. As safety consultant Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, when it comes to residential buildings, fire safety is primarily about getting people out of the building, while theft protection involves keeping burglars out.
-If there is a fire, people need to be able to get out without worrying about locks, keys and codes. If a burglar breaks in, on the other hand, we don’t want him to be able to slip out of the front door with all of our property, and that is why it is not easy to protect a building against both fire and theft. If you consider the full picture and make clear choices, though, it is actually possible to do both, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen from the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology, DBI.
Are there people in the building or not?
One of the traditional pieces of anti-theft advice is to have a lock on the door that cannot be opened from the inside without a key. It is therefore recommended to avoid thumb-turn locks, as these allow a potential burglar to let himself out with all the stolen goods. If a lock requires a key – and even if the key is left in the lock – it can slow down or create added stress for residents attempting to flee in the event of a fire. That is why Maiken Skriver Poulsen recommends always considering theft protection based on two scenarios: In one scenario, there are people inside the house who may be fast asleep, and in the other scenario the entire family is away from home.
– If the house is empty, there is no reason for having a key in the lock on the inside of the door. Besides, if there is nobody home, it needs to be as difficult as possible for a thief to empty the abode. On the other hand, if there are people inside the house, we recommend leaving the key in the lock on the inside of the door and installing an alarm, Maiken Skriver Poulsen explains, referring to a burglar alarm with motion sensors or a video surveillance system with an alarm.
For businesses, the safety consultant recommends separate security systems depending on whether or not people are found in the building.
Prevention is the best protection
According to Maiken Skriver Poulsen, companies and private citizens should, however, generally implement the most effective means of burglary protection – namely, prevention.
– A survey conducted by the Danish Insurance Association shows that burglars most often break in at the ground level through a window, so this is naturally an area that requires extra attention. The good, old-fashioned tricks are also still effective, such as keeping laundry on the clothes line and rubbish in the bin, says Maiken Skriver Poulsen, and concludes:
– All experiences show that the thief will select houses where it looks like nobody is home. You should therefore always be sure to turn on a light, have cars parked nearby, keep a free line of sight to the house from the street and neighbouring houses, and post clearly visible signs to let people know the alarm is on.