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May 21 2015

Ohio Hearing – Security Industry Association

Category: Egress,School SecurityLori @ 2:29 pm Comments (8)

In a couple of weeks I’ll be attending a public hearing in Columbus, Ohio, where anyone with an opinion on the use of barricade devices in schools can speak to the Ohio Board of Building Standards.  In July, the Board will issue an official decision about whether to change the current Ohio code requirements and allow barricade devices to be used in schools.

Readers of this site know where I stand on this issue, but attempting to look at it objectively, I have not heard one good reason to allow devices which can deter or prevent evacuation, are not regulated, certified, or listed for use on a fire door, and that allow someone (anyone) to barricade the door and prevent access by staff or emergency responders.  Why are we even talking about allowing someone to secure a door against not only the bad guy, but the good guys?  And especially when there are already code-compliant ways to provide the needed security?  The only reason I can think of is cost.  Is that really a good reason to take three steps backward on safety?

SIA OH_SB_125_FinalI know there are people who think the current codes are outdated, that fires aren’t an issue in schools, and that our top priority should be protecting against active shooters.  I’ve already put together a lot of research, statistics, and evidence on those topics, so I won’t repeat it here.  But when I consider giving up the protection that the current codes provide, and abandoning the code development process that incorporates the expertise of many, it scares the heck out of me.  Really.

The Security Industry Association (which recently selected an Allegion team (including me!) to receive the SIA Policy Leadership Team of the Year Award!) has submitted letters to the Ohio legislature expressing concerns about Ohio Senate Bill 125, and Ohio House Bill 114.  These bills call for the Ohio 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.”

As stated in the letters from SIA:

“We are concerned that the revision to the code is entirely too broad and permits the use of devices that do not meet proper code requirements for free egress, specifically in that occupants would not be able to exit without obstruction.  Additionally, willful misuse of the devices could prevent both escape and intervention from the outside.  In the event that an emergency situation was taking place inside of the locked room, first responders would not be able to enter.”

At a bare minimum, a lock on a classroom door should allow access from the outside by a staff member or emergency responder with a key or other credential.  If you can think of a reason why it would be ok to lock the door and completely prevent emergency response, I’d love to hear it.

I could use your help with my testimony for the upcoming hearing.  If you were sitting in the hot seat in front of the Board, what would you say??

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8 Responses to “Ohio Hearing – Security Industry Association”

  1. Logan says:

    I suggest that you bring a physical example of one of the classroom security locksets and say “This can be opened by staff, police, firefighters with a key and can be locked down without putting teachers in danger.” Then hold up one of the many noncompliant options and say “This will either trap children inside a burning building or trap them in a room with the very criminals we are trying to protect them from.”

    Once that’s out of the way then you could begin to talk about the actual code compliance issues etc. Either way I think you want to emotionally bring the point home. The whole point of these bills are to try and protect our children but they actually does the opposite. End of story.

    I don’t know… Maybe that’s putting it a little TOO simply. I guess IMHO, the people backing these types of initiatives have the best intentions. They really do want to protect our schools. I think that the best way to get through to them is to explain that they backed the wrong horse so to speak, and that if they want to achieve their goal then they need to do it the right way.


  2. David Barbaree says:

    I would say that the current door control devices have been designed and refined based on decades, perhaps even over a century of the effort to balance building security vs fire and life safety egress. There have been many lives lost and people injured during those years of refinement. Those losses have driven the changes and safety laws currently in place.
    Stop trying to reinvent the wheel in order to address a lack of education in lock function options. Facilities and school districts need to pick a function, train their staff and students how to lock the door. The best safety barricade is good training. End of story.

  3. Jack Ostergaard says:

    Go Get Them! I know I’m preaching to the choir but a while ago you had a phenomenal statistic about the number of incidents where access was required to the classroom. Most involved theft. Unfortunately the code does not address this issue only fire. And because of the code mandated requirements the number of fire incidents doesn’t attract attention. I know this isn’t a legit reason to use a barrier but it is the “other” reason not to use one.

  4. Daniel Ferry, AHC says:

    I would advise them against passing revising the current fire/security codes.
    Of course for all of the reasons that you have previously stated but make sure to make 1 strong point!
    If you provide barricade devices for schools, a typical classroom MIGHT have need for it once in 10 or 20 years.
    HOWEVER, in that same 10 or 20 year period, how many times will that same device be used by the wrong people with ill intent? If you guess even twice, then that device should not be allowed on the property.
    Instead of focusing on keeping an intruder out of the individual classrooms, they need to think a little bigger and do what they can to keep them either out of the building itself or off of the property entirely.
    Hope that helps.

  5. Jerry Rice says:

    If it comes down to cost, then are you prepared to talk about the price of a compliant lockset versus the most popular barricade devices? Work with small numbers though, (for one lockset) as the difference between the two can be a large number when extrapolated for entire school or school district. Any way to offset the cost difference besides ‘guilt’, if something bad happened behind the secured door (e.g. insurance savings, etc)?

    If your argument wins them over, the please share for the rest of us who are fighting this battle in the trenches with you.

    Good luck!

  6. JMR says:

    Explain it this way: if students have access to the barricade device, they will use it, and not for their own protection. Imagine what will happen when a bully barricades the door with a special needs child in there with him. He could assault the other child (physically, sexually), and staff will have no way of stopping or preventing it from happening – because the door is barricaded.

    Imagine the lawsuit that would happen if this scenario took place. That would cost 1000 times more than protecting the students properly with the correct lockset. In my opinion, this is a much more likely scenario than an active shooter situation.

  7. Cda says:

    I think I would talk to the point that there is code compliant hardware in existence, that will achieve the same wanted results.

    Then throw in all the problems with non compliant barricade devices.

    You might dig through your picture file and pull out twenty or so pictures of schools where after hour devices are allowed but have been found in use while the building is occupied. This could show them that if allowed, it might compound the issue.

  8. Martin Badke aka lauxmyth says:

    No words to coach you on your presentation. However, a bit of encouragement. I firmly believe you are on the right track on this issue and those who can see past those peddling fear will agree that moving first responders into the building is also critical.

    Go get’em tiger!

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