I know I’ve been writing a lot about school security lately (and I will have a few more pieces in the near future before I take a break from this topic), but this issue extends far beyond one state or even one type of facility. The debates over the use of barricade devices have turned political, threatening the codes that help to ensure life safety, and the code officials that enforce those codes.
Bills were recently filed in the Ohio House and Senate, which are described as:
A BILL To amend section 3737.84 and to enact section 3781.106 of the Revised Code to require the Board of Building Standards to adopt rules for the use of a barricade device on a school door in an emergency situation and to prohibit the State Fire Code from prohibiting the use of the device in such a situation.
In other recent proceedings the state fire marshal voiced “strong objections” to pending legislation regarding barricade devices, and the legislators unanimously approved the bill anyway (much more on this tomorrow).
Fire marshals and building code officials play a critical role in the safety of building occupants, and they need support from others who understand the value of code requirements affecting free egress, fire protection, and accessibility. The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has posted a document on their website which offers that support, by providing guidance on the use of classroom door security and locking hardware. The 6-page document includes a suggested classroom door checklist, with code references for each item on the list.
The introduction reads, in part:
“When considering the selection of hardware which allows classroom doors to be lockable from inside the classroom, consideration should be given to the risks and potential consequences of utilizing a device which blocks the classroom door from the inside. For example, devices which prevent classroom doors from being unlocked and openable from outside the classroom may place the inhabitants of the room in peril. In addition to the requirement that classroom doors must be unlatchable in a single motion from inside the classroom, these doors should always be unlockable and openable from outside the classroom by authorized persons.”
I urge you to download the NASFM guidance document and share it with your code officials as needed.