The current situation in Ohio could result in a major blow to the codes that protect building occupants, unless lawmakers recognize the importance of code-compliant egress. For anyone who needs to catch up…
- A community group raised $30,000 to buy door barricade devices for a school district.
- The district was told that they could not use the barricade devices without a variance, as the devices are not code-compliant.
- A state board denied the request for a variance, which means that the barricade devices can’t be used unless there is a change in the codes or laws.
Upholding the code requirements that ensure free egress seems like a very reasonable decision made by the board. But most of the media reports describe classrooms left unprotected when code officials enforce a code that some feel is outdated and needs to be changed. Will lawmakers uphold the codes that have been protecting us for decades, or will they modify state laws to satisfy the parents and teachers who are pushing for a change that would sacrifice free egress in favor of inexpensive locking methods?
There are many code-compliant locks available today which allow free egress, can be locked without opening the classroom door, and allow authorized access from the ingress side (code change proposals submitted for the 2018 IBC and IFC would require this if approved). Yes, these locks may cost more than some of the barricade devices, but most of the retrofit devices don’t allow free egress, can not be accessed by staff or first responders from the ingress side, do not meet accessibility standards, and may be used by an unauthorized person to secure the classroom.
If a code change is made because the cost of the code-compliant products is too high, we’re headed down a slippery slope. In my opinion, free egress should not be compromised to avoid paying for code-compliant security. What do you think?
Some of the recent news…
State rejects school district’s appeal to use barricades – Akron Beacon Journal
Members of a central Ohio community said they’re frustrated with the state’s decision to keep schools from using security barricades intended to stop a gunman.
After parents raised $30,000 to buy intruder-defense systems for the Southwest Licking school district, they were told the devices violate Ohio’s Building Code. The district appealed, but the Board of Building Appeals within the Ohio Department of Commerce this week voted down the use of the barricades.
The active-shooter training received by the school district last year encouraged using barricades to stop a gunman. Southwest Licking Superintendent Robert Jennell told The Advocate in Newark that the ruling means schools have one less safeguard against an active shooter.
Ohio rejects school district’s appeal to use security barricades – The Morning Journal
“We’re not allowed to barricade our doors,” he said. “That’s basically just short of telling us ‘Don’t follow the advice outlined in active shooter training.’ “
The state’s ruling also called into question similar barricade devices used by Mentor and Madison school districts in Northeast Ohio, according to WEWS-TV. Mentor Fire Chief Bob Searles said he’s hopeful the state fire marshal will consider changing classroom fire codes.
Several districts in the Cincinnati area had also explored using barricade devices last fall.
Ohio school barred from using barricade devices – Telegraph-Forum
A recent state ruling barred an Ohio school district from using portable door barricades to stop potential school intruders. That could prove problematic for schools using similar devices across the state.
The appeal came from the Southwest Licking Local School District, which intended to place the small devices in every classroom. The Barracuda Intruder Defense Systems can be placed across classroom doors in the case of emergency to lock them from the inside.
However, a 4-1 ruling from the Ohio Board of Building Appeals stopped the district, at least for the time being.
School officials had appealed to the state board after the county building department said the Barracuda Intruder Defense System prevented people from leaving a room without a key or special knowledge — a violation of state building code.
The codes were created to protect the welfare and safety of the public so they can quickly exit a building in an emergency, Ohio Department of Commerce spokesman Matt Mullins said.
Editorial: Blocking school barricades endangers students – Newark Advocate
During the state’s ALICE safety training for school shooting situations, it’s become clear that the best method for saving lives is to securely block classrooms. It’s far more effective than other tactics, including asking staff to throw items at a shooter. And as one parent noted to us, public safety experts all recommend barricading doors.
“The (state) attorney general, the FBI, even Homeland Security, tell schools to barricade doors, and for some reason the (state) Department of Commerce has not caught up,” Erin West said.
So, it’s time for state lawmakers to step in and change state law to allow schools to install door barricades and use them during any situation where student safety is threatened.
So we call on our local lawmakers — state Sen. Jay Hottinger and state Reps. Scott Ryan and Bill Hayes — to work with the colleagues and update Ohio law as quickly as possible.
We can’t imagine the blame many would face if the unthinkable happened without these barriers in use.
Ohio schools can’t use barricades to keep gunmen out – The Columbus Dispatch
Hottinger said he has spoken to Flowers several times about the situation, most recently at Tuesday’s State of the State speech.
“I asked him, ‘Would you really levy fines (on schools) that used door barricades in the case of an active shooter?’ It’s not illegal to have them, just to use them. He said, ‘Absolutely not.’ But, he said, ‘It’s a big liability if they’re used inappropriately.’ What’s to keep a student from using a barricade and then assaulting a teacher or raping a student?”
Hottinger said he plans to schedule another meeting to bring more people into the decision-making process, including the Department of Public Safety and the State Highway Patrol.
“At the end of the day, I’m confident that we will come to the conclusion that barricading doors is a proper solution against an active shooter,” he said.