When this story was posted on Facebook yesterday, several people attempted to address the code issues associated with the teenager’s invention. A commenter posted a link to one of my articles, and another commenter called my article “a fallacy”!
From CBS Minnesota:
The truth is, the type of device shown in this news story is not compliant with the model building codes, model fire codes, or national accessibility standards. And with the device sitting “right next to the door or at least within arm’s reach” (as stated in the news report), what is to prevent an unauthorized person from putting it in place to secure the classroom? I wonder how easy it is to remove it for evacuation once an intruder has given the door a few good kicks. This is the type of performance criteria that would be tested by the standards used for locks, panic devices, and other door hardware, but these products are not tested to those standards – or any standards actually.
The news report seems to indicate that the schools mentioned are in Minnesota, but after speaking with someone from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office, it appears that the schools are actually in Wisconsin. That’s unfortunate, because the Minnesota SFM has a very clear policy on school security – available here. The summary at the end of their information sheet states, “Although at first glance the use of door security and barricade devices may appear to offer a practical solution to lockdown security, their use creates additional and unacceptable hazards–hazards that have successfully been addressed by fire and building code language born of past tragedies. Current codes allow fire-safety, life-safety, and security to be accomplished in balance without one negatively affecting the other.”
I was unable to find a written policy from the Wisconsin State Fire Marshal. Regardless, the model codes have been discussed and modified, with changes incorporated into the 2018 editions. The statistics on school crime show that the vast majority of school-related shootings are perpetrated by students (according to the CDC and the FBI). Guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the Partner Alliance for Safe Schools (PASS) require code-compliant hardware to be used on classroom doors. The use of non-code-compliant security devices creates potential liability for schools or other facilities using them (there’s more about this on LockDontBlock.org). What’s left to clarify??