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Mar 19 2014

WW: School Security on a Budget

Category: Locks & Keys,Wordless WednesdayLori @ 12:35 pm Comments (8)

I honestly thought I might run out of Wordless Wednesday photos someday, but they keep coming!  RB Sontag of Allegion sent me these photos of a creative latch hold-back retrofit on fire-rated classroom doors.

School Security 1

School Security 2

If Google has just brought you to iDigHardware for the very first time, here’s some background on this situation.  Schools are struggling to find cost-effective ways to quickly lock classroom doors if there is a problem in the building.  In these photos, they have used what looks like a plastic folder to prevent the latch from projecting into the strike.  The outside knob is kept locked at all times, but because the lock won’t latch, people can enter by pulling the door open.  One of the problems with this is that fire doors are required to latch.  Preventing the latch from projecting into the strike makes the fire door non-compliant.

The other problems I have with this application are a) this is not a good long-term solution from a durability standpoint, b) in addition to protecting against an intruder, it’s also important to protect against an unauthorized person taking control of a classroom.  There are THOUSANDS of crimes committed in schools each year – assault, theft, vandalism, sexual assault…with an office function lockset or a lock that is kept locked all the time, what is to prevent someone from locking a classroom door to commit a crime?  If the teachers can’t carry a key to lock a classroom security lock, how will they unlock the door after it has been locked by an unauthorized person?

This may seem unlikely, but it HAS happened.  It is actually much more likely than an intruder situation.  Will schools be held liable for “allowing” a crime to happen by giving the unauthorized person the ability to lock the door?  I’m not a lawyer, but with schools paying settlements for wired glass injuries and being sued for inadequate security, I think it’s something to consider.

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8 Responses to “WW: School Security on a Budget”

  1. Jack Ostergaard says:

    We need to have a “FIRE DOOR – Door must be able to latch” label attached to the door above the stike.

  2. charles says:

    I hear more that it is hard for some students, with all the homework they have, to turn the knob and open the door, SO they go to devices like in the pictures.

    • Lori says:

      To that I would say…change the knobs to classroom security levers and kill 3 birds with one stone – security, accessibility, and homework overload.

  3. Rachel Smith says:

    Sometimes I just get so mad! Why oh why! Thanks Lori for continuing to keep situations like this front and center with our community and to spread the word to building owners, building inspectors and more.

  4. Kathrine says:

    Give staff guns so they can shoot back. That would be a good deterrent and probably lessen the number of shootings

  5. Jamo Ladd says:

    Never under estimate the creativity of teachers. Right or Wrong.
    at least as the fire gets close and heat rises the paper become very brittle and the latch would pop through. it would be like a fusible link kinda. NOT ENDORSING THIS METHOD.

  6. Jim ELder says:

    Although i cannot see it fully, the window lite would seem to suggest that the door is not rated. If that is the case, this method is not the perfect solution but at least legal.

    Again, why have not manufacturer’s come up with a fix for retrofit devices that does not cost an arm and a leg? My guess is there is no money to be made in a $50 fix. Moreover, it would tend to reduce the market share for the more expensive solutions we are being steered to. An effective inexpensive solution may also keep customers buying the standard locksets in NEW facilities and simply put one of these devices in the hardware schedule.

    This thing cost nothing, so why are we concerned about its durability. Throw it away and get a new one. I agree that crimes happen each year in schools; so don’t use such devices for places that have a crime higher crime risk or accept the risk. I wonder how many crimes occur when the MO involves the bad guy locking the door? Is there any research anyone can point to on this issue? In a lockdown situation with an active shooter as long as folks understand the limitations of these solutions, its better then walking out in the corridor to lock the door.

    Im not saying this is a good solution; Only that–in my view– manufacturers are not stepping up to the plate with anything better. Instead we talk (me included) about the things these devices won’t do. An $800 – $1200 per door solution is not a solution!! Its a liability (that is unless you use it everywhere).

    Sorry about the rant…

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