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Apr 18 2016

Banned: Classroom Barricade Locks

This article appeared on the IPVM website, and takes a good look at the other side of the story…

Banned: Classroom Barricade Locks

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Apr 14, 2016

In this age of classroom shootings, many are looking for barricade locks – a cheap and easy stopgap to bolster door security.

Critics condemn barricade locks as dangerous and even deadly because they do not satisfy basic building codes, while proponents claim their simple operation and cheap price outweigh the risks.

Access dealers, worried parents, and school administrators alike have waited to see if building code exemptions would be made.

The world’s biggest building code group have weighed all these arguments, and made clear their position in the upcoming 2018 edition of international building codes. Inside, we examine the changes, the proposed code, and where current barricade locks run foul.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

6 Responses to “Banned: Classroom Barricade Locks”

  1. Bill C. says:

    Is it just me.. or do those Barracuda products seem like the crud that you see on infomercials? Why do I feel like they could not give a care to the fact that it has taken us FOREVER to standardize our current door hardware.. and all they want to do is make a quick buck? I don’t think they see the safety of the children as first priority, if they did, they wouldn’t be developing ADD-ON products. Instead, they would be looking at the existing approved door locks that are already in existence and coming up with a complete stand-alone door lock product. JMHO

  2. John Payson says:

    I wonder how many supporters of these devices have asked themselves whether it is a good idea to allow mischievous students to lock themselves and possibly others in a room in such fashion that they’d have free reign to do whatever they wanted in the room without outside interference. Whether egress-related issues outweigh the importance of keeping intruders out would be a judgment call that you’d make it differently from the lock’s proponents, but the proponents’ judgment there isn’t unreasonable since the risks that you and they are guarding against are both very slight. The probability of lockout devices getting used for mischief, however, is much greater; installation of such devices would thus imply a willingness to invite mischief in exchange for protection against something that isn’t apt to happen anyway.

  3. Gretchen Knoblock says:

    Lori, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this on new construction only? For new construction, barricades would not be allowed, they haven’t been, and this is not new. New construction is inspected by the local AHJ, which would be an inspector, I believe, from the state department of building codes. However, there is not a regular inspection done on existing schools by this same group. It is my understanding that they only look at new construction. Older schools, where school boards have been sold on these devices are not held to the same standards. This is the problem I see.

    In Michigan, the AHJ for school “safety” inspections lays in the hands of the State Fire Marshall’s office. And they do NOT do regular inspections of every school every year. It is not in the hands of the local fire inspectors. So where the state fire marshall has approved the use, it’s legal, despite being banned by the IBC. So there are two existing problems:

    1) State Fire Marshalls are in charge of door code compliance in existing schools (and are they educated in fire door inspections?)

    2)There are no required regularly scheduled inspections of school doors, (fire or other), by any entity. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Lori says:

      Even if a school is not inspected regularly, the facility is still required to comply with the fire code that has been adopted in that school’s jurisdiction. The IBC does apply to new buildings, but hopefully we will see similar changes to other model codes. However, if a state fire marshal allows the devices or a state fire code is modified to make them acceptable, they are legal in that state. Whether fire marshals are educated about fire door inspections varies. Some are aware, some are not. Some states do require annual inspections of schools…in Massachusetts where I used to live, the schools in our town were inspected once per year. They probably weren’t looking very closely at the fire doors judging from the condition of them, but they did do inspections.

      – Lori

  4. Jeff says:

    Can I ask you this what happens if there is something new that dose meet all Life safety codes but is not manufactured by one of the leading hardware company’s. Dose that make it a bad idea or device and should not be used? when it could save lives. I feel each and every product should be looked at and not just passed by because the hardware manufactures did not have the forethought to develop it. Don’t get me wrong there needs to be a standard but lets not close our minds to the good ideas that are out there.


    • Lori says:

      Hi Jeff –

      There are new products designed all the time, and the codes and standards may not address them until someone proposes a code change. There is a process for approval of products and methods that are not specifically covered by a code or standard. Here’s an article about it:

      My concerns with classroom barricade devices are not based on the fact that a leading hardware company did not think of the idea. A device which delays evacuation, may not be operable by someone with a disability, can be installed by an unauthorized person, and prevents access by school staff and emergency responders is extremely scary for me to consider as a mother of school-aged kids. In my opinion, the only benefit of a classroom barricade device over traditional hardware is the ease of procurement and installation, including the potential cost-savings.

      It seems that others in the business of life safety agree, since the International Building Code has strengthened the classroom locking requirements for the 2018 edition, rather than sacrificing safety for less expensive security.

      – Lori

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