It seems like just about every week I see a new classroom security device that promises to thwart intruders and help keeps kids safe in school. As I’ve said multiple times, many of these devices are not code-compliant, and trade security for life safety. In evaluating these products, my criteria are:
- It must not violate code requirements for free egress.
- It must not inhibit latching if the door is a fire door.
- It must not allow unauthorized locking which could encourage mischief and/or criminal behavior.
- It must be readily available and easy to install if needed.
In some cases, the facilities using these products may not be aware of the code requirements or they may think that security trumps codes in an intruder situation. They may have even convinced their local code official that these devices should be allowed in an emergency situation. I have not yet found any code officials who were willing to agree to this in writing, but I did find a memo (thanks to Andy Lindenberg of Allegion) from the New York State Education Department, which clearly states their position: