Classroom Barricade Devices

Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous news articles from across the country referencing school security initiatives and several discussed the use of classroom barricade devices. As a door hardware manufacturer, this is concerning because these types of devices often do not meet life safety or fire codes requiring free egress, fire protection, or ADA accessibility.

In March of this year, the Bremen Public School District, located in Indiana, developed a new school safety initiative plan. Several levels of security are being added, including upgrading their card access system. Unfortunately, in the article that reported these upgrades, it stated “the safety plan also includes the addition of a classroom barricade device. The devices are magnetic and slide onto the back piece of the door to barricade the door and keep intruders from entering a classroom if they break the lock. The devices are already being distributed to classrooms.”¹

In 2018, the State of Indiana released a School Safety Recommendations document which specifically included verbiage on classroom door hardware.

Under Recommendation #11
“Replace classroom door hardware to ensure fire and building code compliance. The door must lock from the inside and not restrict exiting or egress from the classroom or building. This could reduce the number of non-compliant tactics being used (such as magnets) to allow easier re-entry access by students during class time.”²

Another recent news article described how a former lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began to discuss procedures to be followed in the event of an active shooter situation. However, before the lecturer began speaking, he noticed that the classroom doors did not have locks on the inside of the doors.

Concerned, the lecturer did reach out to the University’s Facilities Service advising them of this safety concern and suggestions on how to fix it, including the use of deadbolts. The article went on to share that the concerns were forward to the UNL’s Police Department’s Assistant Chief of Police, who in turn, did reply that deadbolts were not a viable solution as “fire code prohibits the use of deadbolts in classroom spaces.”³ Listening to officials who understand building and life safety codes is vital in having code-compliant hardware.

The 2018 edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes in Chapter 15 for Existing Education Occupancies:

15.2.2.4 Classroom Door Locking to Prevent Unwanted Entry
Classroom doors shall be permitted to be locked to prevent unwanted entry provided that the locking means is approved and all the following conditions are met:

  1. The locking means shall be capable of being engaged without opening the door.
  2. The unlocking and unlatching from the classroom side of the door can be accomplished without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  3. The releasing mechanism for unlocking and unlatching shall be located at a height not less than 34 in. *865 mm) and not exceeding 48 in. (1220 mm) above the finished floor.
  4. Locks, if remotely engaged, shall be unlockable from the classroom side of the door without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  5. The door shall be capable of being unlocked and opened from outside the room with the necessary key or other credentials.
  6. The locking means shall not modify the door closer, panic hardware, or fire exit hardware.
  7. Modifications to the fire door assemblies, including door hardware, shall be in accordance with NFPA 80.
  8. The emergency action plan, required by 15.7.1, shall address the use of the locking and unlocking means from within and outside the room.
  9. Staff shall be drilled in the engagement and release of the locking means, from within and outside the room, as part of the emergency egress drills required by 15.7.2.

The Bremen School District disregarded NFPA Life Safety Code and their own state’s recommendations. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s assistant police chief was correct in noting deadbolts would not meet code, however the article didn’t share any further information whether solutions were provided for locking the interior side of the classroom doors.

In Massachusetts, a lawsuit was recently filed by the Lenox Public School District (near Boston) against the town of Lenox, the Massachusetts Building Code Appeals Board, and the local building inspector for requiring the school to remove the barricades devices they purchased as they do not meet Life Safety or Fire codes.

With the advent of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, information and misinformation are difficult to categorize or research. Many educators and the public may not understand the challenges classroom barricade devices present.

Selecting proper security for emergency egress, while meeting building codes can be challenging. It is important to remember that building codes are in place for a reason. The NFPA gathered statistics on school fires with 10 or more deaths. The last major school fire happened in 1958 in Chicago, IL, where ninety students and three nuns lost their lives during a fire at the Our Lady of the Angels School. We all can agree that keeping our children safe is our number one priority.

After each major incident, we learn how to better improve buildings to keep people safer. Following the Columbine tragedy that happened 20 years ago on April 20th, a new lock function was introduced called the intruder classroom function, that allows mechanical control of the outside lever via a key from either the interior and exterior side of the door. A standard classroom function lock is controlled by a key in the outside cylinder, which locks or unlocks the outside lever. The intruder classroom function allows a person to lock the door with a key from inside the room rather than stepping out into the hallway. Today, there are many more code-compliant options available.

The Door Security + Safety Foundation has gathered many resources for how to combine safety and security on their Lock Don’t Block website. These include articles, white papers, and other documents from organizations such as Safe and Sound Schools, Pass – Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, The School Superintendent Association, and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, among others.

The advancement of technology has introduced several electronic access control solutions. Online locks no longer need to be hardwired making installation easier and less expensive. Obviously, we feel our HS4 electronic hardware solution is the best, but our hope is to educate school districts, parents, and facility maintenance personnel that there is cost-effective code-compliant hardware available. We do not feel barricade devices are an acceptable solution for school security, due to possible unintended consequences.  We can help you design a safe school security system that meets building and life safety codes.

For more information on our HS4 Hager powered by Salto Electronic Access Control Solutions please contact your local sales representative or email [email protected] .

¹ Indiana District Develops School Safety Initiative Plan 
² 2018 Indiana School Safety Recommendations
³ The Gray Area of Classroom Locks

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Safe Schools Week October 21-27, 2018

Every week is safe schools week in our book, but in1984 the National School Safety Center (NSSC) designated a special week to recognize the successes of quintessential school, district, state, and national programs.

Per the NSSC website, the goal of this campaign is to “motivate key education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents and community residents, to vigorously advocate school safety. School safety includes keeping campuses free from crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance.”

Doors, with the correct hardware, play an essential role in providing safety and security to students, teachers, and personnel. Have you ever thought about how many doors you walk through when you enter a school? Was there an open gate when you entered the campus? Was the building’s perimeter door unlocked, so you were able to walk right in? How many doors did you pass before you reached the office?  Recently constructed schools are designed to direct the flow of visitors to help control access to the campus. Often, older schools were built to be more accessible, allowing opportunities for non-authorized people to enter freely, without having visitors check-in.

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School Security and Safety since Columbine

18 years ago the Columbine school shooting shook the world with images of students filing out of school buildings in single file with hands raised, SWAT teams surrounding the school, and the stark terror on the faces of the students and teachers. For the security and safety community, it renewed efforts to keep our most cherished citizens safe.

School security has increased tremendously since the Columbine tragedy. A direct result was the introduction of the classroom security function. In order to secure a traditional classroom function lock, a person had to step out into the hallway from the classroom and use a key to secure the door opening. With the introduction of the classroom security function, the lock is able to be secured from the interior of the room.

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Access Control: Door Hardware and Code Compliance by Brian Clarke DHT, AHC, CDT, CSI

This article was published in the DHI, Door Security + Safety Magazine in January 2018 issue

Keeping occupants safe is a common goal for facility managers and property owners. As the number of break-ins, active shooter incidents and other violent encounters continue to grow, controlling who enters a building has become more vital than ever before.

For healthcare, education and office buildings, standard door and key configurations do not always provide the type of security necessary. This is leading decision-makers to look at more sophisticated access control solutions. The electronic access control market has become more refined in recent years and it is important to know what is available and what may fit the needs of a given facility. Furthermore, the type of hardware chosen must be code-compliant, making proper selection even more important.

In high use buildings, such as a school or office building, access control must allow for a door opening to have free means of egress, during an emergency, along with fire protection and meet accessibility requirements. The International Building Code (IBC) defines an accessible means of egress as a “continued and unobstructed way of egress travel from any point in a building or facility that provides an accessible route to an area of refuge, a horizontal exit or a public way.”

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UCLA Lockdown

Yesterday there was a lock down on the UCLA campus in the Engineering 4 building. With the use of social media word spread quickly and students definitely took the alert the school sent out seriously.

Several students posted photos on social media showing how they were barricading themselves in rooms including rooms where the doors had no locking devices.  It is difficult to determine from the photos if the rooms are specifically classrooms or not.

UCLA_June_1_2016_P3No indication if the door had locking
hardware on it and this was for reinforcement

UCLA_June_1_2016_P2@Jasonschechter states “doors open outward
and aren’t able to be locked.” Can’t tell from photo if
device is a passage function, classroom function
or if the lock wasn’t operational. If classroom function
the students were smart not to open the door to
lock from exterior side.

UCLA_June_1_2016_P1This room looks like it could be a classroom.
@whydaphnewhy is stating the “doors open outward, no locks.”

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Classroom Barricade Devices

We had another post planned but felt this was more important to share.

This video has surfaced on Facebook. It currently has 3,552,279 views, 122,560 shares, 21,189 likes and 1,153 comments.  These are the type of devices that those of us in the hardware industry are fighting against.

Facebook / Future X - via Iframely

 

From the comments it is evident that people don’t understand the dangers these devices can contribute too. If you have a moment we encourage you to comment on the Facebook post to help education the general population.

Here are links to additional information as to why barricade devices are not a good choice.

National Association of State Fire Marshals – Classroom Door Security Guidelines

Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) – White Paper on Classroom Barricade Devices

Classroom Barricade Devices and why focusing on them makes us vulnerable to threats

Expert says many of these products are not code compliant and could nullify the warrantees of locks and door hardware.

What Price Security?

Classroom Door Security

 

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