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Feb 09 2018

FF: State to City College: Uninstall 1,000 Fire Code-Defying ‘Barricade Devices’

Category: Egress,Fixed-it Friday,School SecurityLori @ 12:27 am Comments (9)

On Wednesday, my post was about Michigan schools coming under scrutiny for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on classroom barricade devices that don’t comply with the requirements of the model codes or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

Yesterday, I read an article about a college in California that purchased and installed 1,000 barricade devices at a cost of more than $200,000, as recommended by the local police chief.  The college later removed the devices, as they are not compliant with the building code and fire code in California, or with the ADA.  If any of the devices were installed on fire door assemblies, the holes left after the devices were removed will need to be addressed.

It’s not unusual for fire marshals to order the removal of barriers to egress – it happens all the time with chains, padlocks, surface bolts, deadbolts, and more creative means of securing doors.  When the fire inspector orders chains and padlocks to be removed, that’s the end of it (until the next time).  But when the fire inspector prohibits the use of barricade devices, some manufacturers and end users have engaged local lawmakers.  Legislators in 3 states have voted to exempt the devices from all of the egress requirements in their state codes, instead of requiring locking methods that provide security AND life safety.

The bill that is currently moving through the state legislature in Utah has removed so much of the code language that a double-cylinder deadbolt on a classroom door could be code-compliant, if retracting the deadbolt is considered one operation.  I’m sure that was not the intent of the legislation, but that’s the result of overriding the codes without anticipating the impact.  The Utah bill says that the security device must be approved by the code official, but the bill has exempted the “second lock” on classroom doors from ALL of the egress requirements that the code official could enforce.

Hopefully, California legislators will continue to leave the codes to the code officials, and mandate code-compliant security methods as required by California AB 211 – a law that requires code-compliant locks.  There are plenty of ways for this college to lock their doors without violating the codes.

Here are the articles about the barricade-device removal:

Photo:  Victor Tence, The Guardsman

9 Responses to “FF: State to City College: Uninstall 1,000 Fire Code-Defying ‘Barricade Devices’”

  1. Cda says:

    Love it when law makers get involved.

    Just makes things all better.

  2. Tim S says:

    I don’t remember who said it first, but it seems applicable here.

    “The most terrifying words in any language are, ‘I’m from the government…and I’m here to help.'”

    Given that City College didn’t even bother to check with the local fire inspector before installing these…things…makes me wonder who was related to who, and who got to pocket what money. I mean let’s be serious…they paid $200 (installed) for a spring loaded clip that gets 6 screws to fasten it to the door? I mean, yeah, there has to be some kind of foot installation for that spike to go in to, but $200 apiece seems like there has to be a lot of graft built into that already. The fact that one of the articles appears to imply that they didn’t even shop the job around first just makes it look even worse than it already did.

  3. Raymond Holman, AHC says:


    You recently published (or gave a link to) a breakdown of the 11 school shootings mentioned by the Utah rep and others. Can’t find it. Can you help?

  4. Louise says:

    Quick story for Fixed it Friday: A contractor put up a temp. wall with a lockset.
    The wall created a room with only the temp. wall’s door for egress.
    The key side was on the inside.
    Five times I told them to fix it or remove it.
    Sixth time I locked the door with a worker inside. (No, I didn’t leave.)
    The lock was turned around about five minutes later.

  5. Joel Niemi says:

    “There is lack of clarity regarding use of these devices” said a college administrator.

    Well, only for those who can’t count. Codes are pretty clear with “one operation” text.

  6. Misha Burnett says:

    As an institutional locksmith, I can imagine the conversations that took place.

    Administration: We need you to install these on all of the classrooms.
    Locksmith: We can’t install those. They violate the fire codes.
    A: It’s okay. Go ahead and put them on.
    L: You do realize that the fire inspector will order them removed as soon as he sees them on the next inspection, right?
    A: Just install them. We’ll deal with that.

    Local Authority Having Jurisdiction: Those things violate code. Take them down at once or we’ll pull your occupancy permit.
    Locksmith: Yeah, I knew you were going to say that.
    Administration: But the guy who sold them to us said it was okay.
    LAHJ: The guy who sold them to you was wrong.

    Administration: We need those things taken off right now.
    Locksmith: If I say ‘I told you so’ will I get fired?
    A: Probably.

  7. Brendan Daley says:

    I would like to see the State then file lawsuit against the manufacturer of the device for cost of material.

    Also how many of these were fire doors with holes in them now

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