Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Email:, Blog: or

Mar 13 2018

Legalities of Classroom Barricade Devices

Category: School SecurityLori @ 12:29 pm Comments (8)

I spent some time this morning reading personal accounts of the February 14th school shooting, written by students who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  Their stories are heartbreaking – I can’t imagine my kids experiencing such a devastating tragedy.  But as we’ve seen in each school shooting, there is always something that we can learn about physical security in schools.

From Sandy Hook we learned that teachers – including substitute teachers – MUST have the ability to lock their classroom doors quickly; we also learned that the glass adjacent to school entrance doors is a weak point and must be addressed.  From Red Lake High School we learned that sidelights and vision lights in classroom doors must also have impact-resistant glazing to deter access to the inside lever or touchpad.  From Platte Canyon High School, Virginia Tech, and West Nickel Mines Amish Schoolhouse we learned that when active shooters take hostages and barricade themselves inside with their victims, law enforcement response is delayed and the number of casualties may increase.  From Marshall County High School we learned that the ability to evacuate freely may reduce casualties, and from Rancho Tehama Elementary School we learned that locked doors can delay or prevent a shooter from entering a school.

We will learn more about the shooting in Parkland, Florida as official information becomes available in the coming months.  For now, we only have news reports and eyewitness accounts to learn from.  And what is evident from those accounts is that the classroom doors (most? all?) were closed and locked when the shooting occurred.  While it is horrific to read that shots were fired through the glass, killing and injuring students and teachers who were in the line of fire, the doors were not opened and the shooter did not enter the classrooms.  If he had, the number of fatalities would have undoubtedly been much higher.  The locks that protected those lives were traditional locksets – not retrofit gadgets (AKA classroom barricade devices) that secure the door but also deter or prevent egress and evacuation as well as delaying law enforcement response.  Locks save lives.

There has been a lot of discussion about whether classroom barricade devices are “legal,” whether they are a violation of the ADA, and whether their use increases liability for schools that use them.  For legal advice on these questions, I asked Allegion’s outside counsel.  He provided me with a document specific to accessibility and updated our document on liability – both are available below.  In addition, I recommend reading this article written by Robert Boyd of the Secure Schools Alliance: Classroom Barricade Devices – A Dangerous Violation of Federal Law.

Feel free to distribute any of this information as you discuss classroom security and safety, and let me know what other documentation would be helpful.  You can share this post via social media or email by clicking the Share/Save icon above.


Retrofit Barricade Devices and ADA Compliance

School Liability Update

Mar 12 2018

WWYD? Fail Safe Access Control?

Category: Electrified Hardware,WWYD?Lori @ 1:30 pm Comments (4)

I recently updated an article that I wrote back in 2012, and it was included in this month’s Codes & Education newsletter from Allegion.  The article addresses fail safe and fail secure products, and the common locations for each (the updated article is here).  In the article I said that when I specify an electric strike, I almost always specify a fail secure strike rather than fail safe.  Here’s an excerpt from that section of the article:

There are very limited situations where access upon fire alarm is required (see below regarding stairwell re-entry). I have been asked, “What about firefighter access?” The use of an electric strike really doesn’t change anything in regard to firefighter access. Their method for access on a door with a mechanical lockset can still be used. That might be a key or access-control credential in the key box or a tool, depending on what type of hardware is on the door.

One of my security-consultant pals emailed me to say that on a fire door leading to an office area, the building occupants need to be able to gain access – even during a fire alarm – because in many cases the entire building is not immediately evacuated.  If a fail secure electric strike is installed on the fire-rated office door, power is cut to the strike during a fire alarm to ensure that the door is latched.  In this situation, the access-control credential won’t operate the strike and occupants can not access the space.  The same thing goes for the credential in the key box, intended for use by firefighters.

He has a point.  So what’s the answer?  Electric strikes shouldn’t be used for this application?  Are there other considerations for the access control system when the building may be occupied during a fire alarm?  What if there is an access-control credential in the key box but the power has been cut and the access control system isn’t functioning?

For all of the access-control gurus out there…WWYD?

Mar 09 2018

FF: To exit, push the button…

Yes, there is an exit sign above this door.

Thank you to Darren Patton of Isenhour Door for today’s Fixed-it Friday photo.

« Previous PageNext Page »