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Sep 02 2014

WWYD? School Security

Category: Egress,Fire Doors,School Security,WWYD?Lori @ 2:30 pm Comments (10)

In addition to providing support and training on door-related code requirements, my job also includes participating in code development – helping to propose changes to the codes that affect our business, and reviewing proposals from others.  There is currently research underway that may propose to add school security requirements to a national code.  But what should those requirements include with regard to physical security?  Requirements that are too prescriptive may not be feasible for some school districts.  Those that are not prescriptive enough (like the proposal from the Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security) may inadvertently result in code violations or locking methods that allow unauthorized locking.

A quick search of recent news provides a look at what various school districts are doing to improve school security:

And in the midst of all of these efforts, we continue to see creative methods employed by teachers and administrators to facilitate a lock-down.  I feel for the teachers who are just trying to do what they can to keep their students safe.  I have many friends who are teachers, and I have 3 kids in school.  But by now, most of you know my criteria for an effective classroom security device:

  1. It must not violate code requirements for free egress.
  2. It must not inhibit latching if the door is a fire door.
  3. It must not allow unauthorized locking which could encourage mischief and/or criminal behavior.
  4. It must be readily available and easy to install if needed.

My question for you is, given the chance to add school security requirements to a code, which could then become enforceable, what are the minimum requirements required to keep schools safe?  Do we compromise the requirements for egress or fire safety in order to protect against intruders?  Your input would be greatly appreciated as this initiative moves forward.

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10 Responses to “WWYD? School Security”

  1. James Caron, AOC says:

    No offense (I have a few teacher friends myself), but they should be leaving school security to the security experts. These “simple” security fixes are against safety code (that’s why our industry doesn’t manufacture them).

  2. Ron Hansen says:

    1.It must not violate code requirements for free egress. Fails, but not by much. A quick release system could be designed with little added cost.
    2.It must not inhibit latching if the door is a fire door. Pass
    3.It must not allow unauthorized locking which could encourage mischief and/or criminal behavior.Fails miserably.
    4.It must be readily available and easy to install if needed. Pass

    Not the worst idea I’ve seen or heard. Beats “throwing books and pencils” at the intruder.

  3. Chuck says:

    I agree with James, everyone thinks that they are security experts!
    The “simple” solutions always seem to create more problems than they were intended to fix.

  4. Andy Lindenberg says:

    Does anyone ever confront these ideas with the negative affects they have regarding unauthorized use, life safety and free egress? These homemade contraptions must be in development for a period of time before being submitted for patents and/or put out in the marketplace. How do we let it get that far?

  5. Tom Breese says:

    Totally agree w/ your four criteria. Additionally (ideally), in 21st-century new construction, doors can be remotely monitored and remotely locked, and remotely observed (front office / security office / district office / local law enforcement). The real-time access control system would also monitor forced-open and door-propped conditions as well. Real-time status intel allows the response team to effect a strategy quickly and decisively. Physical cut-keys give way to single-user electronic credentials. Not as expensive as it sounds when designed into new work.

  6. Khozema Kazi, AHC, FDAI says:

    The door must be HM and vision lite must be bullet proof.
    Timber door and safety glass vision panel can be compromised with one heavy stroke of axe if the intruder is carrying one.

  7. Robert Davidson says:

    This item like many other get rich quick ideas does not comply with the existing building and fire code egress requirements. Should something happen to the teacher, heart attack or pass out from stress, young students are locked in without an ability to evacuate if needed.

    In addition to numerous code compliant electronic access control methods, major lock set manufacturers all have code compliant school security lock sets that secure the classroom on the corridor side while allowing egress from within. Since approved code compliant solutions are available all of these ‘clever ideas’ should be prohibited.

  8. Cornell Schreiber says:

    Take a look at this gadget that is designed to bind a parallel arm mounted closer arm to restrict opening of the door (from both sides). As we all know every closer is installed absolutely correctly, and a shorter person will have no problem slipping this off the gain egress in case of fire.

    • Lori says:

      I’m not a fan of that device…it prevents egress and could be used by an unauthorized person. Plus the majority of classroom doors are not outswinging with PA closers.

  9. Ed Marchakitus says:

    I believe there should be a National Code for school security requirements that would be supplemental to life safety, egress and fire code. Many automatically think “classroom door” and that is as far as it goes. We would need the code to adress existing and new facilities (naturally). I believe we also would need specific doors broken down by classification – Classroom doors that lead into an egress corridor; Classroom doors that lead into an adjacent classroom; Main Entry (lobby) both vestibule and non-vestibule types; Library; Gymnasium; Stage/Theatre Perimeter Doors; Cafteria; Bathrooms (both in classroom as in Elementaries and main use bathrooms along corridors); Perimeter Openings (other than main entry lobby) to start.
    I strongly agree with three of the four criteria in every circumstance. I do not feel it in best interest to assume anyone will have their wits and “install” anything at the time of an active shooter scenario. I do not feel we should place that responsibility on the adult in the room at the time – no matter how many drills you have – I feel the constant discharging of a weapon outside the door will alter the adults thought process and thus the reaction time and behavoir.

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