If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know something about classroom barricade devices and the efforts to change the model codes in order to ensure that classrooms are secured in a manner that is SAFE, as well as secure. What you may not know is that a change proposal for the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, includes language that would allow two releasing operations for locking/latching hardware (instead of one), which could affect the allowable methods for classroom security:
Proposed: The releasing mechanism shall open the door leaf with not more than two releasing operations.
If approved, this change would be included in Chapter 15 – Existing Educational Occupancies, Chapter 17 – Existing Day Care Occupancies, and Chapter 39 – Existing Business Occupancies, and would apply to classrooms in existing schools, existing day care centers, and existing college classrooms. I encourage you to read the complete change proposal, which is on pages 31, 36, and 79 of this document.
The requirement for one operation to release the latch(es) has been present in the model codes for as long as I have been working in the door and hardware industry, so I did some research to find out when the one-operation language was added. It appears that the change was made in the 1988 edition of NFPA 101:
1988: 5-126.96.36.199 – A latch or other fastening device on a door shall be provided with a knob, handle, panic bar, or other simple type of releasing device having an obvious method of operation under all lighting conditions. Doors shall be openable with no more than one releasing operation.
The language did not appear in the 1985 edition:
1985: 5-188.8.131.52 – A door shall be so arranged as to be readily opened from the side from which egress is to be made at all times when the building served thereby is occupied. Locks, if provided, shall not require the use of a key, tool, special knowledge or effort for operation from the inside of the building.
The change to allow two operations for existing classrooms has not yet achieved final approval. It will be discussed and voted on during the NFPA conference in June. Your input could have an impact on whether or not the change is approved, so tell me what you think…
- If you are in favor of allowing two releasing operations, tell me why the change is needed.
- If you prefer the current language stating that the door must be openable with one releasing operation, give me some specifics to support your position.