Articles touting the value of classroom barricade devices without any mention of the related safety issues are legitimizing the use of these devices that are not compliant with the model codes. An article in this month’s Security Management magazine, a publication of ASIS International, covers the perceived security benefits of the devices used in the Mentor, Ohio school district. Although the local AHJ has approved the use of the devices, they do not comply with the current Ohio codes, the guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals, or the recent report from the Ohio Board of Building Standards.
Mentor Public School District, 20 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio, is home to nearly 8,000 students from preschool through 12th grade. The school district keeps its safety and security plans at the forefront, conducting year-round safety drills, says Matthew Miller, district superintendent. “Whenever we talk to groups–whether it’s our own teachers or the Parent Teacher Association–the first thing that we focus on is safety,” says Miller. The school district also works closely with local fire and police departments to conduct joint safety drills, and the organizations communicate often. “We spend a lot of time together talking about different scenarios, we’re always in contact with one another when something comes up.”
In late 2013, the Mentor County fire chief was approached by National School Control Systems, a company that produces barricades to protect classrooms or any area with a traditional interior door–such as gymnasiums, offices, and cafeterias–in the event of a lockdown. Representatives told the chief about the BEARACADE product and possible deployment in the community. The fire chief then brought BEARACADE to Miller.