Arkansas Times: “Fire code change approved over fire marshal’s objections…will help sale of device with political investors”
The abbreviated version of this story is that a bill to change the state fire code and allow barricade devices in Arkansas schools is moving through the legislative process, despite “strong objections” from State Police Capt. Lindsey Williams, who also serves as state fire marshal. According to the article, several politicians including an Arkansas state senator are investors in a company that makes barricade devices – ULockitSecurity. I highly recommend that you read the article and check out the product.
From the Arkansas State Fire Marshal:
“Why would anyone be opposed to something intended to enhance school security,” he asked rhetorically. “The problem is that while this attempts to address one problem, it enhances the danger from another issue, such as fire.”
He said proponents note an absence of school fire deaths while school shooting deaths have occurred. Williams said that’s because of “very effective and well-defined [fire] code development over the years.” He disagreed that the door-locking devices were easy to disengage, particularly in a “panic” situation. He noted that, in a mass school shooting in Colorado, the shooters had also set fires. The fires were extinguished by sprinkler systems, which don’t exist in most Arkansas schools. “If these devices had been in place, people in those classrooms [in a similar situation] might very well not have been able to get out.” He said a piece of equipment rarely used isn’t easy to operate when it isn’t used every day. He noted that the Connecticut fire marshal, in a state where the Sandy Hook school massacre occurred, does not allow use of such devices.
In a December 2014 article from ArkansasOnline announcing the new barricade product from ULockitSecurity, state Senator Jason Rapert is quoted as saying “not only would the device be valuable for schools, it could be used in any place where large gatherings are held and weapons aren’t allowed, such as churches.”
Click here to share this post by email.
You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.
So a ND75PD lock can be had for around $225 before install which will meet all code and safety requirements. But no we have a knee jerk reaction and have to do something/anything without any consideration for the unintended consequences. When something bad happens because the door is barricaded I hope those people are still around to answer for this.
This is a very dangerous device. At 1:45 in the video, you see the device engaged, and there are tabs on each leg that lock it in place. You would not be able to simply pull it straight up and off. You would have to depress each spring-loaded tab while lifting, It would be convenient to have a third hand while attempting this. On the website, the “inventor” says….”the security-locking device be kept in a drawer or cabinet where only school officials would know where to find it, in case of an emergency, so that a student couldn’t lock down a classroom.” In the time it takes to search out and put this device on, a classroom security look could have already been secured, providing all teachers are required to keep the key on their person AT ALL TIMES.
And let’s not forget that these devices prevent credentialed access to the room in the event of a abusive situation. Thanks to the other code required elements – sprinklers, rated walls, etc. we are not likely to have a fire caused “spur event”. But as soon as a child is abused behind one of these devices while authorities struggle to gain access – well wait till the lawyers get their hands on that one. Once again it will take a tragedy to prevent further tragedies.
My only question: What can be done and how do we act to stop the spread of this political/code wildfire for the sake of all those that may find themselves literally “behind the door”?
I’m not sure but what I’m doing is making sure people are aware of the issues associated with these devices – code officials, school staff, legislators, even parents. If the parents consider the dangers, they may think twice about pressuring their legislator to try to override the fire code requirements.
There are solutions on the market, just sad that lawmakers would consider endorsing this product.
Wow. No common sense at all.
First we have a school administrator and security officer blatantly ignoring life safety.
Second, the device is to be hidden so kids can’t use it. But won’t the teacher will give away the hiding spot when they do an active-shooter drill? That won’t matter, because the kids can just make their own in shop class where the prototype was made!
Haven’t classroom security locks been around since post-Columbine? So why are all these post-Sandy Hook idio… uh, I mean, “inventors” getting so much press?
PS- please stop calling those things “hinges”.
You just can’t fix stupid!! Lock any of the new device proponents in a room with the new product and light a fire in the middle of the room. Provide an alternate exit with a classroom security lock. See how well they like it then.
It seems that the politicians, that are investors of this barricade devices, are also pushing this device for financial gain for themselves. If this device is outlawed all their money will go down the drain. I hope they can also see that lives are more important than their invested money in a product that could do more damage than good. I wish they could have invested their money in buying code compliant products to make it more affordable for schools to have the security and safety that’s needed.
Student Lives Matter
I know this is a late response and may not get much feedback at this point but I’ll give it a shot.
I think these “inventors” have good intent. They simply aren’t aware of the codes that govern doors/hardware. I know it seems like common sense but how many times have those of us in the industry tried to explain what we do to an outsider just to hear them say, “I had no idea so much went into doors”. These inventors are trying to come up with a way to protect our kids (with hopes of getting rich in the process). I’m assuming they aren’t aware of the dangers they create with these new products.
I’m well aware of the codes and I understand the need for emergency egress, emergency access, etc. I’ve also heard that locked doors are rarely breached by active shooters. However, as a parent, I would like to see something a little more substantial than a 1/2″-3/4″ throw latch-bolt protecting my child. How many times have you seen a gap between the door and frame that is greater than 1/8″? That means the latch is offering less protection than intended. Are you comfortable knowing that there is only 3/8″ of metal keeping that shooter from breaching the classroom door? It’s likely less than that. It’s probably only a 1/4″ piece of glass preventing a reach-in and quick turn of the lever. I’m not comfortable with that.
I believe our schools and classrooms deserve an extra level of protection in an active shooter situation. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for how to achieve that. I may feel differently than most of you in the industry when I say I’m not opposed to something that would add security even if it does require one additional step to egress. As long as it can’t be deployed by anyone (students, outsiders, etc.) and still allows authorized access from the outside, I think it’s worth it for our kid’s safety.
Just a thought:
Maybe there should be a new code that states ALL classrooms must remain closed and locked when occupied (not too much of an inconvenience, right?). That provides the first layer of security by eliminating the need for a teacher to fumble for the key in a very tense/scary situation. If the door is already locked, there is an immediate sense of security for everyone. Now the kids can be directed to their hiding places and the teacher could make his/her way to the door to engage a double-cylinder deadbolt with a 1″ throw. This deadbolt would only be allowed to be locked in an active threat situation. Maybe it could have a special housing or big RED trim ring with a built-in warning that reads “Emergency Use Only”. The teacher would have the key and it would also be accessible from the outside should it be locked inappropriately. The deadbolt prevents the shooter from being able to break the glass at a narrow lite window and gain access (which can happen with a standard classroom lock). I don’t think the extra time it takes to open that deadbolt would be an issue in most active shooting circumstances. The likelihood of a fire or other life threatening emergency taking place in the classroom during an active shooting event is minimal.
Our kids are special. There are already special considerations for other applications such as mental facilities. There are special considerations that allow double-cylinder deadbolts if there’s a sign that reads “door to remain unlocked during business hours”. Why can’t there be special hardware considerations for classrooms?
I’m ready to be bombarded with all of the objections. But please include in your response whether or not you have kids of your own that are still in school.
Hi Lori I thought you might be interested in this article. http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/arkansas_legislature_proposes_school_security_become_private_information
Thanks Debbie. I’ve thought of that too…I wouldn’t want a floor plan of my school floating around, let alone more detailed info.
I agree with Eric T. I agree that we can’t ignore the possibility of a fire in a classroom. And I think new schools should have fire rated walls and doors for the classrooms to make the threat even lower. However I think that by far the best answer is that the doors remain locked the entire time class is in session and if a child needs to leave to use a restroom an Aide (which pretty much all schools already have) should escort them to the restroom and back and leave the door locked. The use of a double cylinder Deadbolt would give far greater security than the intruder function locks for a much lower price. The idea that only one motion should be required for exit has always seemed extreme to me. If the teacher has the key to lock the deadbolt then she will still have it to unlock it, and if it was necessary the door could still be forced open by the police or fire department with more effort than a lever. I’m not really opposed to the stronger devices either but I do think there needs to be a way to secure them so the wrong people don’t lock them.