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Home > Reviews > Facility Manager’s Guide to Safety and Security

Facility Manager’s Guide to Safety and Security

Author John Henderson CPP

ISBN No 9781498737722

Review date 19/11/2019

No of pages 271

Publisher CRC Press

Publisher URL

Year of publication 07/11/2016


The Facility Manager's Guide to Safety and Security by John W Henderson

Our Review


£ 49.99

The Facility Manager's Guide to Safety and Security; published 2016 by CRC Press.

As the author rightly says at the very beginning, there's indeed a lack of material for managers new to the role of looking after facilities, whether from the point of view of facilities management (FM) or security management.

From a Canadian Army background, the author went into the police in Canada and there went into facility security, becoming a member of the North American-based security management association ASIS and taking the CPP security qualification. He argues that buildings have much in common 'despite their different shapes, sizes, and functions ... a basic building is designed to hold occupants, furniture, items of value' or factory machinery and workers. Early on he brings in the Maslow hierarcy of needs pyramid - and as on the bottom two rungs of that famous pyramid, facilities are meant to provide for the occupants the basics - shelter, and safety (physical and psychological).

Henderson goes through the routine stuff of premises security - access and key control, fire safety, audits and reviews, writing proposals, incident response, maintenance and business continuity, and more FM matters such as car parking (if a building has any, indeed, as some city centre and high-security sites do not) and 'wellness' (clean water and cleaning in general). What might be most original and of interest to the security reader is the author's opinion that 'most facility owners, managers, or operators actually have little accurate knowledge of what is really going on in a multi-user building, which makes it extremely inefficient and ineffective to properly secure the site and suggest that it is safe for users'.

As he adds, that's 'a liability issue' for the facility manager and owner, and if it makes a place foreboding (dark and dank car park, access control systems turned off, doors kept open with blocks of wood so smokers could pop out), it may put off visitors and tenants. He goes on to 'clandestine laboratories' that can get to work in private homes and commercial buildings, making illicit drugs.

The author rightly develops this theme in the body of the book. In his experience - a step on from building managers not knowing what really goes on - Henderson says many owners or operators think they know what's going on in their building, but they haven't taken the time to investigate; nor do other staff such as janitors pass on what they notice - such as, that expensive new access control system isn't working because the back door's propped open with a brick so someone can unload. As Henderson rightly concludes, security should take a 'planned and layered approach'; and not only include hardware, but policies for its use, and awareness and compliance by the building's actual users. Security staff can be part of the problem, he says - again from experience - if they report that 'not much happens'. Henderson argues that there are security 'gaps', incident types that aren't reported, or even listed as something to look for. Henderson argues that such gaps are 'often found to be quite startling in scope and very different from what management thought was going on in the facility'.

He shows how much flows from defining reportable incidents - the facility manager gets to know more about his own building; security staff morale goes up because they are doing more, and seen to be doing more by the rest of the building; complaints and medical emergencies are reported for security officers to be dispatched to the scene quicker; and the security department is thus better placed to keep its budget and staff, as it's doing more than locking and unlocking doors.

Few books cover how security relates to FM; Henderson in a readable book makes a good case for the facility manager to become broadly skilled, including in security, and the central figure in a building, even at a time of crisis.

One quibble is that FM, like security, is a service. He gives an example of a site with a 1000-space car park next door to a college with a gymnasium, that staff used. They crossed the car park to use the gym. A fence around the perimeter was proposed, which would mean the gym-users would have to walk an extra 500 feet around the fence, to enter the gym through gates. Henderson recalls an outcry, and notes the irony that fitness enthusiasts were complaining about having to walk . Such is the mentality of some people, he says; like water, people follow the path of least resistance. But as we've all seen fences with holes in, for people to make such short cuts, who's in the right? Are fences made for people, or people made for fences?! And even if the FM or security man is in the right, that it does people no harm to take a minute's exercise to walk around a fence, does being in the right matter, if someone spoils the security by breaching the fence (requiring an expensive repair) for their own convenience?! And isn't that likely to cause the very problem - of a security gap that many FM managers don't notice - that Henderson rightly highlights.