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Jan 23 2017

When Simple is Safer: The Dangers of Door Barricades in Schools – John Woestman

Category: Locks & Keys,School SecurityLori @ 12:37 am Comments (5)

This article was written by John Woestman of the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and recently appeared in Locksmith Ledger.


A variety of specialized locks are designed for traditional use in schools on classroom doors. The classroom lock’s function type is unique in that the lock can only be locked or unlocked from outside the classroom by using a key (usually held by the teacher, administrators and custodians). Since this type of lock must be locked from outside the room, it is intended to make it difficult for mischievous students to lock the teacher – or other authority figures – out of the classroom from the inside.

Following the tragic events of Columbine High School in 1999, the classroom intruder lock was designed to allow a teacher to lock the classroom door with a key from the outside or the inside of a classroom. As this type of lock allows the teacher to use a key from inside the classroom to lock the outside lever (with the door closed), it can prevent unauthorized ingress through the classroom door—a functionality which can be important in the event of an emergency.

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5 Responses to “When Simple is Safer: The Dangers of Door Barricades in Schools – John Woestman”

  1. Jim Elder says:

    A good article but why is it necessary for the IBC, et al to specify that remotely controlled locksets are legal. To my knowledge, all of these devices already meet code (I know the argument, i.e. that code officials are not convinced and this clarifies the issue). I would bet that this bit of code is made with intrinsic bias (not INTENTIONAL) toward a product. Fact is, it would appear to the layman that only this type of lock is “approved” to address the issue of active shooters. Simply put, an $800-1800 per door solution is not a solution.

    Manufacturers have put tons of bucks into this technology and yet a simple solution that does not involve replacement of the lock (at minimum a $300 solution) has not yet evolved. Why?

    • Lori says:

      It’s true that remotely controlled locksets are legal. Some of the other language in this section is also covered other places in the code. The intent was not to lead anyone toward a particular product – it was to help clarify what is required and what is allowed.

      As far as the simple solution that does not involve replacing the lock, there are options – re-keying, keeping existing classroom locks but keeping them locked all the time, establishing procedures for use of classroom security locks that are already in place. It’s not easy to come up with a solution that is inexpensive, retrofittable, AND code-compliant. If you have some ideas, let me know. 🙂

      – Lori

      • Jim Elder says:

        I understand those solutions and that coming up with something new is not easy (your preaching to the quire here). Point is, is that there is no motivation for the big lock manufacturers to come up with a reasonable solution that is both workable and cost efficient… thus the birth of these awful barricade devices. Case in point is the residential wireless lock. The big guys came up with solutions but they all involved replacing the existing lock. A couple of kids in a garage (sound familiar), came up with a device for less than $100 that mounts over your existing deadbolt locksets. There is one model that even comes with a network camera and IR light source. In no way am saying this solution is right for schools, but it illustrates that creative solutions are out there.

        How about a “classroom modification kit” which could adapt existing locksets. A bag of parts, if you will. Sorry, I am

  2. James Hanna says:

    Unless I’m mistaken, the article stated that using a barricade is not allowed if the device requries special knowledge, tools or a key to unlock to allow egress. That would mean, again if my logic is correct, that every barricade that has been designed for this application would not be allowed.

    This popped up on my facebook feed today:
    I’m thinking this would not be allowed then.

    • Lori says:

      Hi James –

      I do not know of a barricade device that is compliant with the model codes, especially when you factor in the existing hardware that would typically be on the door.

      – Lori

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