Barricade 1

Barricade devices may prevent an active shooter from entering a classroom, but there are severe unintended consequences that can be associated with their use.

As many of you know, on Fridays I usually post a photo of a creative way someone has solved a door problem, which is often non-code-compliant and unsafe.  If you’ve arrived here looking forward to this week’s Fixed-it Friday photo, I apologize because I have to write about another type of “creative problem-solver” today.

Many of my industry colleagues and I have been working for months to educate people about the dangers of passing Ohio House Bill 114 and Ohio Senate Bill 125, which would allow barricades to be used in school classrooms with little or no restrictions or guidelines.  Although these bills are specific to Ohio, they will set a precedent that will reach far and wide.  In case you’re just tuning in (if you’re already up to speed, skip past the bullets to get to the news update)…

  • Most barricade devices do not allow access by first responders, even if they have a key.  Breaching a barricaded door using tools or explosives results in a loss of valuable time and can be fatal, as seen in the shootings at Platte Canyon High School, the Nickel Mines schoolhouse, Virginia Tech, and other incidents.  In a study of barricading and hostage-taking incidents in schools, students were the perpetrators in 16 of the 19 incidents studied; hanging a barricade device next to the door could help to facilitate this violence.
  • The Ohio Board of Building Standards has held 2 hearings and is considering changes to the Ohio State Building Code and Ohio State Fire Code. The hearings have involved stakeholders with various perspectives, and the Board’s decision will be announced on July 24th, 2015.  There are model code change proposals moving through the code development process which would lead to consistency for school security on a national level.
  • An all-hazards approach to school security must be considered, as described in testimony last week from the former superintendent of the Chardon Schools, where a school shooting occurred in 2012 (Former Chardon Superintendent Leery of Door Barricades).  If a barricade device prevents evacuation and results in harm to building occupants, or if a barricade device is used by an unauthorized person to secure a room and commit a crime, a school district could be held liable.
  • Barricade devices do not meet the current model codes, the guidelines of the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, or OSHA regulation 1926.34: “No lock or fastening to prevent free escape from the inside of any building shall be installed except in mental, penal, or corrective institutions where supervisory personnel is continually on duty and effective provisions are made to remove occupants in case of fire or other emergency.”

I think these red flags should be considered before legislators make a decision that could put students and teachers at risk.  It seems like politicians would welcome the perspective of code officials and experts in security AND safety, but they may not get the chance to hear it.  The bill that would allow barricade devices to be used in schools has now been incorporated into the bill that will set the state budget for the next two years.  It’s right here in the 771-page comparison document released this week by the Legislative Service Commission (pages 238-239). 

I’m very concerned and disappointed that this bill will not be properly considered when presented as part of the state budget bill.  Teachers, students, and their families will pay the price, I’m afraid.

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