On Wednesday, my post was about Michigan schools coming under scrutiny for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on classroom barricade devices that don’t comply with the requirements of the model codes or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

Yesterday, I read an article about a college in California that purchased and installed 1,000 barricade devices at a cost of more than $200,000, as recommended by the local police chief.  The college later removed the devices, as they are not compliant with the building code and fire code in California, or with the ADA.  If any of the devices were installed on fire door assemblies, the holes left after the devices were removed will need to be addressed.

It’s not unusual for fire marshals to order the removal of barriers to egress – it happens all the time with chains, padlocks, surface bolts, deadbolts, and more creative means of securing doors.  When the fire inspector orders chains and padlocks to be removed, that’s the end of it (until the next time).  But when the fire inspector prohibits the use of barricade devices, some manufacturers and end users have engaged local lawmakers.  Legislators in 3 states have voted to exempt the devices from all of the egress requirements in their state codes, instead of requiring locking methods that provide security AND life safety.

The bill that is currently moving through the state legislature in Utah has removed so much of the code language that a double-cylinder deadbolt on a classroom door could be code-compliant, if retracting the deadbolt is considered one operation.  I’m sure that was not the intent of the legislation, but that’s the result of overriding the codes without anticipating the impact.  The Utah bill says that the security device must be approved by the code official, but the bill has exempted the “second lock” on classroom doors from ALL of the egress requirements that the code official could enforce.

Hopefully, California legislators will continue to leave the codes to the code officials, and mandate code-compliant security methods as required by California AB 211 – a law that requires code-compliant locks.  There are plenty of ways for this college to lock their doors without violating the codes.

Here are the articles about the barricade-device removal:

Photo:  Victor Tence, The Guardsman

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