Making Schools Safer

Bullet proof classroom doors tested

South Carolina Radio Network
October 30, 2018 - 7:46 am

OCTOBER 30, 2018 BY RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network)

A Lowcountry military steel company has developed a bullet-resistant door and they’ve been installed in two Charleston-area schools.

R2P Bulletproof Door (Source: R2P Bulletproof Doors)

R2P Bulletproof Doors are a subsidiary of Pegasus Steel, founded in South Africa with North American headquarters in Goose Creek. The company develops ballistic technology used to build mine-resistant vehicles in the Iraq war. The company’s next progression was to use the technology to save civilian lives.

“We started seeing these school shootings being such a problem and not seeing the answers that we were looking for,” said Kirk Ferguson, Director of Special Projects for R2P Innovations. “Tony (Deering, company founder) turned his attention toward it. It became a passion project of his to find a feasible answer to take what he’s been doing for most of his adult life and turn that into a way to try to stop this problem.”

The doors are designed to stop bullets as large as 7.62 mm fired from assault rifles.

“If you look at school shootings the largest that has been used is a 5.56 mm assault rifle. Ours will actually stop a caliber larger than that so, yes, it does stop all common use assault rifle calibers,” Ferguson said.

A common problem with bullet-proof doors is their weight, requiring specially-designed door frames, opening mechanisms and walls. It’s taken four years for R2P to develop the technology for a lighter-weight door that can be installed into existing door frames and can be undetected.

“They are completely covert,” Ferguson said. “Nobody knows they’re there.”

Ferguson said the company has been contacted by school districts in New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin and Texas for potential installation.

“With a product like this, it’s getting a lot of attention. People are asking about it,” he said. “The breakthrough in this product is the size and the weight. It’s half the weight. It fits in a normal door thickness and therefore you can actually retrofit and put it right in existing door frames to make the bulletproof feasible. Otherwise, for what’s being offered by anyone else in this realm, it’s completely unfeasible.”

“It truly is revolutionary because if you bring up a bullet-proof door that you want to hang in an existing frame, that will only stop a pistol,” said Ferguson. “It truly is a completely different step in what can be done.”

Ferguson himself is a believer in the technology. He spent 25 years in Army Special Operations, was on nine combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for a ballistic vest that stopped an AK-47 round.

“It saved my life,” he said. “So I’m pretty adamant about placing something between myself and a shooter as the ultimate line of defense.”

“So many other security measures are great and they’re well-meaning but when someone has made up their mind to walk through that door and do these things, nothing else will actually save a life like putting this door between a shooter and children.”

The doors are not limited for use in schools. Ferguson says they can be installed in private homes, hospitals, government buildings or even office spaces.

“Putting up a single one of these on your break room turns it into a safe room,” he said.

The company employs 150 to 200 workers at production facilities in Ladson and Goose Creek. While the company fulfills military contracts, it also makes an effort to hire veterans such as Ferguson. Deering wanted to establish the company in the Lowcountry from the beginning.

“Liked the area, saw the production capabilities, saw the manufacturing, the seaport and all the things that were already in place and figured it made perfect sense to him,” Ferguson said. “We work very hard to keep our business right here in South Carolina. That’s always been a large priority. We like the area. We live in the area. We’re a part of the area.”

For security reasons, the Charleston County public schools in which the doors have been installed are not identified.

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