Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Feb 07 2018

WW: Lockdown Lowdown

First, since it’s Wordless Wednesday, here is a photo that Jim Phillips of SBS Associates sent me from a school walk-through.  Luckily the school’s security precautions kept these intruders out.


Second, a couple of news stories from WWMT Newschannel 3 in West Michigan.  A little background…several years ago, the Michigan State Fire Marshal issued documentation allowing classroom barricade devices.  The Michigan Schools Fire Safety Rules require egress doors to unlatch with one operation, but barricade devices are allowed because they are temporarily installed.  I’m not clear on why it’s ok to have a temporarily-attached gadget that restricts egress, is not listed for use on a fire door, and is not compliant with the accessibility standards, but permanently-attached locks must meet the code requirements.  Anywhooo…

The news story is called: Lockdown Lowdown: Are school security measures merely an illusion of safety?  Joe Hendry (author of this guest blog post and several other articles on school security) was interviewed, along with Paul Timm (author of this article and others).

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A few comments:

  • I find it odd/irrelevant that the first video begins by mentioning two school shootings that would not have been prevented or affected in a positive way by the use of classroom barricade devices.
  • In the news footage, the devices are sitting right next to the doors where anyone can drop them into the brackets and secure the doors.  I would love to see how quickly school staff or first responders can get into the room if an unauthorized person installs the device.
  • The professor talks about putting locks on the doors for pennies on the dollar and putting the rest of the resources toward after school programs and school lunches.  That’s interesting since she’s talking about using traditional locks instead of investing in classroom barricade devices – usually the devices are marketed as a less-expensive alternative to traditional locks.
  • The second video quotes the National Association of State Fire Marshals about the dangers of the devices, and the local sheriff talks about how great the devices are…the age-old clash of safety vs. security.  Schools CAN have both, but code-compliant security MAY be more expensive than gadgets.  I say “may” because in many schools where barricade devices are being installed, the doors are already equipped with locks.  Maybe they need to be rekeyed, or maybe the school just needs to change their protocols and issue keys to teachers – a full lock replacement is often not required.  Some schools will need to improve the impact-resistance of the glazing adjacent to the door hardware.  Classroom security devices are seen as a “quick-fix” and the marketing is very convincing, but these devices may cost much more than utilizing the existing locks.
  • On the news station’s website, there’s an email from a barricade device sales rep which shows how the company markets to facilities.  I have heard so many reports of these companies stating that their products are allowed in 23 states, approved by the fire marshal, etc.  In most states they are actually not allowed.  Even if they are currently allowed in a particular jurisdiction, there are risks that must be considered.  If they are inherently safe, why are most code officials objecting so strongly to their use?  Why do the model codes include requirements that most barricade devices can not meet?  What’s going to happen to all of the devices that have been purchased, when one is misused and leads to tragedy?
  • The CEO of a barricade company is quoted on the website as saying, “We agree with the idea that if we could go back 100 or 50 years and rebuild our schools in a way that’s better for safety and security. We agree that would be amazing,” she said, when asked about Hendry’s comments about building security features into schools instead of having them buy aftermarket products. “Unfortunately most schools don’t have the budget to tear down a school and rebuild it with these new safety problems.”  What?  So the options are either a) tear down a school and rebuild, or b) buy classroom barricade devices?  <sigh> <grumpy face>


Your thoughts?

4 Responses to “WW: Lockdown Lowdown”

  1. lach says:

    “When the terrorists went and flew those planes into the buildings, what did we do? We armed the pilots, we put heavier doors, we do that for our airports, but what are we doing for our children?” – So we make the doors thicker and arm the children.

  2. Cda says:

    At least some people are speaking up on not using such devices.

    Good / fair news coverage.

    Would like to see the follow up report, will have to check the stations web site .

  3. Raymond Holman, AHC says:

    It’s only going to take one instance of this type of device being abused by a student and the lawsuits will start flying. Yes, we have seen outsiders enter schools and start shooting but most shooters are students and they will quickly learn how these are used and their weaknesses. Why? Because they see the devices every day and they are not secured against abuse. Securing them beforehand would eliminate their “advantage”.

    • David Barbaree says:

      I agree. Even if they secured these devices to prevent unauthorized use, what prevents someone from sticking any kind of rod in there. The door is now set up for anyone with a scrap piece of pipe or rebar to lock the door where no authorized key access will matter.

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