Fort McCoy News Jan. 22, 2016

Shop plays key role in Fort McCoy physical security

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Workers at the Fort McCoy Key Shop are locked into Fort McCoy's physical security efforts.

Locksmiths Jay Kummer and Brandon Gronau of the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) manage and maintain of thousands of locks and keys throughout the installation.

"It's a pretty comprehensive occupation," said Kummer, who has worked as a locksmith at the post for more than eight years. "We work on everything from a regular key lock to card-access and mechanical cipher locks. We also manage inventories of keys used by personnel across the installation for their facilities and in secure areas."

The mission of the Key Shop is to provide base operations support for key and lock control, which includes the physical protective measures for all Real Property facilities assigned to installation organizations, said DPW Master Planning Division Chief Liane Haun.
"Jay and Brandon respond to customer service calls called into the DPW Help Line requiring locksmith assistance," Haun said.

Photo 1
Locksmith Brandon Gronbau with the Fort McCoy Key Shop, which is part
of the Directorate of Public Works, works in the shop in building 2116.

"This may include repair, replacement, or installation of new door hardware; replacement of lost or stolen keys; and replacement of cores in doors when facility custodians have transferred."

Becoming a locksmith requires a lot of hands-on training, Kummer said. Locksmiths are capable of installing, maintaining, fixing, and opening locks, and are skilled at cutting keys and changing lock combinations.

"There are no two days that are the same in this job," Kummer said. "There are new challenges for us every day. When we find new kinds of locks and hardware out here, we have to figure out what it is to start with, and then we have to figure out how to fix it or replace it."

Gronau, who's been a locksmith for more than four years, said people who choose to be locksmiths often have a mechanical background.

"Growing up, I was always the kid who broke something down just to see if I could put it back together," Gronau said. "If you run across a lock that you've had no training on before, you troubleshoot the problem and see if you can fix it. It is kind of nice, too, when you can take something apart, find out what's wrong with it, and get it working again."

Both locksmiths also work in an advisory capacity for new facilities at Fort McCoy.

"I really like the planning portion of when we work with planners on new construction projects on Fort McCoy," Gronau said. "We'll actually get to look at the plans and provide our input on areas such as how we want to secure each door or area that needs locks."

Kummer added, "It's also nice to be a part of the planning because we get to know our customer better. We get to know, in part, what their needs are going to be (once construction is complete), and it's easier during the planning stages for the customer to have a say in the process of where we set up areas where locks are used."

Photo 2
Locksmith Jay Kummer fixes a lock at the key shop. Both locksmiths at the shop are skilled at repairing numerous types of locks.

Besides working with construction planners at DPW and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kummer said they both work consistently with the Directorate of Emergency Services Physical Security Office and Fire Department.

"We have to know a lot about the Army physical security regulations to know what we should and should not do," Kummer said. "We also have to know a lot about fire code and types of locks used in meeting code requirements. This kind of work is especially important and means getting the work done the right way the first time."

Gronau said they take great pride in their work at the installation, and that comes from understanding exactly what the customer needs.

"The types of keys and locks used depend a lot on the location of where the lock will be," Gronau said. "Most of our locks are your regular key lock, but we also deal with padlocks, cipher locks, and card-access locks."

DES Physical Security Chief Mark Reaves said having locksmiths on post is "extremely important."

"They help us change locks on the perimeter areas and on buildings regularly," Reaves said. "Both locksmiths are very capable at what they do, and they help us all the time."

At the DPW Troop Facilities Support Branch (TFSB), the locksmiths are highly regarded for their availability and capability as well.

"What a lot of people don't realize is our locksmiths support Fort McCoy 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said TFSB Manager Kert Hanson. "Our office manages more than 400 transient training facilities, so if we have any locks with mechanical problems, Jay or Brandon are always available to keep our mission running. Their knowledge of the buildings at Fort McCoy and of their customer base is incredible. They are a key part of this installation."

Kummer said he enjoys being a locksmith. "It feels good to be a part of something where you know you'll always have something to show for your efforts at the end of the day, and you know you've made a difference at the installation," he said.

For more information about the key shop, call 608-388-2326.