How Do You Handle 'Forced Door' Alarms?

In electronic access control, one of the most common, yet most confusingly named status alarms are 'Forced Door' or 'Pried Door' alerts.

Often, the problem's root cause is when someone uses a mechanical key to open a door rather than an access credential: When the door opens WITHOUT registering a credential read, the access system calls that a 'Forced Door' alarm - meaning the system cannot really discern HOW the door was opened, just that it was opened without the EAC system involved.

Common methods of 'getting rid' of these alarms range between confiscating all mechanical keys to sequencing door/lock/RTE sensors to filter out a normal exit/entrance through an opening vs. someone maliciously breaking open a door.

To you: What methods do you use to prevent 'forced door' alarms? Thanks.

I would bet that a number of forced door alarms are caused by doors not latching properly. Also where magnetic locks are used with bonding sensors, the bonding sensor often registers before the RQE contacts close (talking milliseconds here), thus creating the alarm followed by an immediate restoral. I have seen big systems generate literally thousands of alarms in a week. For what is worth, here are my fixes.

1. Don’t use forced door alarms. In my view, except for exceptionally high risk areas, forced door alarms are almost useless . In most cases no one responds to them and even if they did the bad guy would be gone. Also, I have a concern about the liability imposed on the owner who does not respond and something actually happens. Instead, set a timer and alarm only on propped door conditions.

2. Use latch position sensors in your locking hardware in addition to door position. If using mag locks, specify a bonding sensor option. In this way, if the door does not close AND LATCH properly you will get a propped door alarm, not a forced door. You will also know that the door is in fact secured, and not just shut.

3. Put sounders at the door with a sign under it that says "SECURE DOOR TO SILENCE" then send the alarm to security only after the local sounder sounds for... say 30 seconds. In this way, the folks near the door can resolve the problem before security needs to respond. Moreover, when someone comes though the door without using a card (i.e. key), the offender will quickly realize the error of his ways.

4. Recombinate the lock cylinder. If people are using a key then the Owner is wasting a lot of money to secure the doors with a card reader. A key should be use only if the card reader fails (something that in my experience rarely happens) and only then, by very specific people. In one case for example, i had the key secured in an alarmed cabinet in the maintenance office. The key should be off the master system. In my view a card reader on a door is about key control and entrant audit; not security (there are of course, exceptions). If you allow someone to use a key then there is no purpose to the system.

5. Video at the door with a preset is also useful so you can talk to the violator's supervisor when you get an alarm.


As a consultant and security solutions designer, I may be in a better position to put such recommendations into a system then an integrator who has to compete with others. But I believe that integrators should at least offer these kind of solutions. I see a lot of time devoted to systems, cards and card readers, software, etc, but very little discussion about what goes on the door. An electric strike, motion detector (for RQE), door switch and card reader is typically about the extent of the hardware that goes on the door.

Hope this helps (this happens to be one of my favorite topics)

False "door-forced" alarms are a big problem for many users. I wrote a short article on this topic a couple of years back that discusses some of the causes and solutions.

most of our customer don't utilize the feature... recently did an install where the customer requested a sounder near the door and each door was read in/out... the read out didn't activate the lock (allowed free egress) it just logged the time when someone went through the door... employees who didn't think badging upon egress was necessary quickly found out that if they didn't they would be greeted with an annoying annunciator...

We used to alarm the command center or the operator by this type of events also we used to use the integration platform in order to call the nearest camera to assist the operator.