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May 04 2018

FF: Why I’m opposed.

Category: School SecurityLori @ 12:03 am Comments (33)

Someone suggested to me recently that I might be opposed to classroom barricade devices because I work for a lock manufacturer.  I’d like to clear that up right now.  Yes, I do work for a manufacturer of locks – also door closers, panic hardware, fire doors, and other products that help keep building occupants safe.  In fact, I have worked for this manufacturer since 1994, and in the industry since 1986.

In that time period I have spent much of my time digesting and interpreting codes and helping to update and clarify them, researching historical fires and other tragedies, and learning from current events including school shootings.  Because of this work, I am able to provide education and support on door-related codes to anyone who needs help.  It still amazes me when fire marshals and building inspectors ask how I would interpret a code requirement.

This work also scares the heck out of me because I think about the “what-ifs.”  What if someone deploys a classroom barricade device and assaults someone in the classroom?  What if a barricade device is in place, an active shooter gives the door a few kicks, and the device can’t be removed?  What if fires and explosives are part of an assailant’s plan, as we saw at Columbine High School?

I do not object to classroom barricade devices because I work for a manufacturer of locks. Almost every classroom door already has a traditional lock on it, and adding a classroom barricade device does not affect the sale of that lock.  But it affects the safety of our students and teachers, and that’s what keeps me up at night. 

A couple of recent examples in the news:


Fox 46


The next one is a little different because it doesn’t seem to impede egress, but I’m curious about a few things:

  1. How much of an improvement in strength is this vs. the existing lock?
  2. How is it released from the outside?
  3. Does the use of this product affect the warranty or listings of the lockset it’s attached to?
  4. If the “blade” is accidentally flipped when the door is opened (as in the video), how does the door close?
  5. Has this been tested for use on fire door assemblies?

Mount Vernon Times

What do you think?

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33 Responses to “FF: Why I’m opposed.”

  1. Joseph T. Loskill says:

    As I’ve told all four of my daughters, the best thing to do is to do in a shooter situation is to evacuate the premises.
    There is not a door installed in any school that will stop a high power rifle round from penetrating it.
    Barricading the door only makes you a still target.
    Police and other law enforcement official agree that putting as much room between you and the school (or other threat) as possible reduces the chances of becoming a victim.

  2. Michael Glenn says:

    So the Rapid Barricade goes on in minutes, but for that specific brand of product or has it been tested with all the major brands? If I buy it and install it and it does not open with the hardware because I own a model that is a little different, am I creating a dangerous situation without knowing it? Also, it looks fairly flimsy, as you noticed it might not be doing any more than what the original hardware is capable of doing.

  3. Martin Badke (lauxmyth) says:

    Well said. Keep working on this in exactly the way you are. These improvised barricade devices are untested and have predicable dire consequences. We can see the future.

  4. Kim Smith says:

    Lori – I’m with you. These barricade devices don’t take into account that 1) some still has to go toward the door to lock it put their life in potential danger – teachers have families to go home to as well 2) if an assailant locks them self in the classroom with children they then have hostages 3) how children with disabilities supposed to use these things? 4)code!!! Codes are implemented for a reason. What I don’t understand is why schools aren’t implementing locked classroom policies. Most of them already have code compliant locking hardware already. I’m having this conversation now with my childrens school. They’ve just agreed to implement the locked classroom policy but they are installing Lock Blok’s that the teachers can choose to use or not use! We’re talking about seconds here. Bad things happen before most people know what’s happening. Just lock the doors!!!

    • Lori says:

      Hi Kim –

      Unfortunately some of the barricade device proponents are convincing people that the codes are outdated, and that protecting people from active shooters is much more critical. In reality, the potential for these devices to be used improperly or to deter egress in other types of emergencies is much more likely to happen than an active-shooter situation.

      – Lori

  5. Craig Luhr says:

    You are spot on. These barricade devices are going to endanger more lives then they could ever save. Double cylinder classroom locks have been in use for years. Classroom function locks are safe as the user can quickly lock the outside lever with a key from inside the room all while allowing free egress.
    These barricade devices are a money grab from companies preying on fear. Frankly, it’s repulsive that any school board would fall for this. Wait for the litigation to ensue as a result of these devices.

    • Lori says:

      I spoke to one school security consultant about barricade devices several years ago. He told me that he was expecting an increase in work for the expert-witness side of his business.

      – Lori

  6. Bill Cushman says:

    What can we do as Door/Hardware specialists that can keep these horrible products out of the hands of people who do not understand how dangerous they are?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Bill –

      I think we have to just keep educating and informing anyone who will listen. Some people are so focused on doing something, ANYTHING, and IMMEDIATELY, that they are not thinking through all of the possible side-effects. I get that – I really do – but it is so dangerous to think that by spending $50 or $100 per door their problems are solved. I am willing to create any necessary materials to help with this educational campaign. Just let me know what you need!

      – Lori

  7. Anthony Wan says:

    The Rapid Barricade could pose an issue for fire rated openings because they could be accidentally left in the locked position while closing. In an event of a fire, that could be catastrophic.

    • Lori says:

      Yes – that is exactly right! In the video, the blade flips to the “locked” position when the door is opened, and would prevent the door from closing completely.

      – Lori

  8. Kevin Meehan says:

    Absolutely. Barricade bars and similar devices that physically block a door without the ability to be opened from the opposite side of the door are just as useful in barricading people IN to an area as they are useful in keeping people out. I am sure that active shooters are more than capable of blocking a doorway using furniture or other items in a room, but that takes time that people can use to attempt to run away – so why speed things up by providing an automatic way of securing the door against law enforcement? I understand the desire to keep students or employees safe, but I agree that it’s better to just use the classroom function hardware to keep the doors locked from the outside while students are present and class is in session. Anyone with the authority to enter from a hallway would have access to a key anyway.

  9. Kevin Meehan says:

    PS – For those who would say that the classroom hardware is insufficient to keep school shooters out, there are a number of excellent add ons such as security film for the door lites or nearby windows (one product in particular called Defense Lite is one I have personally swung a pipe wrench at and it did not break!), or security hinges that are offered by a few manufacturers (similar to standard hinges, but with a lug that connects the door mounted portion of the hinge to a hole in the frame portion of the hinge, negating the ability to open the door by taking the pin out of the hinges).

  10. Joe Hendry, PSP, CLEE says:

    Lori, keep up the good work. I don’t work for a door manufacturer, but realized how deadly these devices are years ago!

  11. Jim Elder says:

    Lori. I don’t think any of your followers (myself included) think that your relationship with barricade devices is motivated by your employer. The things you note are spot on. However, I would argue that manufacturers – in particular – have failed to come up with a good solution for a reasonable cost. Lot of criticism-but no fix. Forced breach of the door has never been the risk (the one “kinda” exception is the last Florida incident where the shooter stuck the weapon through the broken glass). The design objectives clear: 1) lockable from the inside 2) without a key; 3) single motion egress with no special tools or knowledge; 4) can retrofit to existing locks; 5)openable from the exterior by emergency personnel; and 6) low cost ($50 – $100). Note there is no requirement for forced entry resistance. There is also the issue of breaking door or side lite glass— but right now these issues are not part of my issue with the lock manufacturers.

    Regarding the Rapid Baracade device shown in one of the videos. I think this product will meet these requirements. I have been following the inventor and he tells me he’ is on track for a UL listing (including installation on rated doors and has emergency ingress.

    All this focus on barrier devices when enough resistance can be had by a simple deadbolt auxiliary lock (not withstanding that whole two motion thing).

    • Lori says:

      Hi Jim –

      It’s a tough assignment, especially if the door has an existing cylindrical lock. I’ll keep thinking about it though.

      – Lori

  12. Cda says:

    Great work
    Keep it up

    If someone wants to suggest code change,

    There is a process in place, and it will be open for debate.

    • Lori says:

      There were some code changes proposed in the last cycle, but none of the changes that would have reduced the egress/accessibility/fire protection requirements were approved. The past requirements were maintained in the model codes, and a requirement was added for the door to be openable from the outside with a key or other approved means. That should mean something, but people are still trying to ignore the codes.

      – Lori

  13. Barry Caesar says:

    Like I’ve been saying and you’ve been saying Lori. I’m a 1st responder-fire fighter/EMT and your not stopping the shooter, only slowing them down, if someone gets into any room with a barricade or similar device, now the rescue squads, and other responders have a delay, what if a student is commiting a physical assault, now response would be delayed and people can be hurt, don’t come up with a device that makes it harder for resuce.

  14. Mark Derby says:

    Thank you for doing what you do Lori! So much to think about here. Gunshot detection software could lock every classroom door on campus the second a round is fired but then what? Lockdown scenarios terrify me! When it hits the fan and the doors lock, how many are left with nowhere to go? The active student shooter is by far the toughest scenario that today’s security professionals face. A locked door buys time but as others have mentioned, a determined shooter can fairly easily shoot their way through your typical wood door. I think the answer lies in the area of guaranteeing they’re not getting in and early warning through GSD software for evacuation notification and hardened classroom doors. A hardened door with an automatic lock would out perform a manual barrier in my opinion.

  15. Misha Burnett says:

    I am a locksmith for a small university, and the subject of securing classrooms against an armed intruder comes up every time there such an incident in the news.

    I always answer the same way–first, all of our classrooms already have hardware that can be locked from the inside and additional locking hardware won’t increase the door’s resistance to forced entry. Second, the local fire department chief who does the inspections (and with whom I have a good working relationship) would not permit additional barriers to egress being installed on classroom or dorm doors. And third, structure fires are vastly more common than armed intruders, which means that ensuring that students and faculty can leave an area is vastly more important than ensuring that an unauthorized person cannot enter it.

    It is extremely frustrating to have to explain this over and over again to the same administrators.

    • Lori says:

      I hear you – I’m sure it’s frustrating (for me too!) – but your message is spot on. Let me know if there is anything I can provide to help make this easier to explain.

      – Lori

  16. Raymond Holman, AHC says:

    The whole argument that “you work for a lock manufacturer” is silly. Let’s face it, none of these devices involve rocket science and there is no way to get a patent on most of them because they are just variations of something that has been around since the stone-age. Lock manufacturer’s could make and sell these as easily as any independent company. However, name one reputable lock manufacturer that wants to attach their name to a product that can endanger lives just by using it as intended. Not to mention the inevitable law suits. I suspect that someone will eventually come up with a device that meets all the codes, is quick and simple to operate and allows for authorized access. Oh wait! They have! And I believe most major lock manufacturer’s are currently selling such devices.

  17. Marq Mosier says:

    Having participated in full scale active shooter drills, and been to many active shooter trainings (per those trainers, only in two instances has a locked door been breached by active shooters in school) situations – 1) the sidelight was actually broken and the door opened in that manner, and the 2) was a situation that the active assailant/ shooter was inside of the classroom with the children.

    I have worked as both a life safety and emergency management person in a healthcare facility (children’s hospital) as well as a substitute teacher and was active in a code gray at the elementary school with 2nd graders the day after Sandy Hook.

    What we really need is for folks to realize that a fire is more likely than an active shooter and that the existing locks work as designed without the additional paraphernalia that are being forced into doors preventing a child or someone with access and functional disability to open the door to escape.

    What if there were a fire/ sprinklers turned on/ great- no fire/ but the smoke caused the adult to become unconscious? the children are at more risk with barricades. They are often out of reach as well, or confusing to operate.

    We need discussion, training, and understanding of the public to explain why these life safety and egress rules are in place to begin with & drills and explanations of what to do/ not do in these scary situations…. not fear and panic causing contraptions that lock us in.

    which has great information, but also, unfortunately are proponents of barricade devices. Check out the training and Emergency Management tools though. They are very good.

    Hopefully, we will never need it – but like a seatbelt, better to be prepared and not need than vice-versa.

    I love the doors locked policy. That is best – it is frightening to try to cover windows, install barricades, get doors locked, give kids shelter or cover, and keep everyone silent (I like to bring lollipops when I substitute) within seconds.

  18. Marq Mosier says:

    PS thank you for your hard work, Lori!
    Keep it up.

  19. Kevin says:

    It upsets me as a Fire Marshal that you even have to argue your position on the barricade issue. If anyone reads your blog or any of the MULTIPLE articles that you have published, one can easily see that you are extremely passionate about building safety and the occupants within and how they get IN and OUT of a building. I love getting your take on a code issue as it gives me a second opinion from a code-educated person who can speak (type) on a code issue from the “not AHJ” side of the issue. Lori, PLEASE KEEP UP THE FIGHT!! Please let us know if we need to speak to anyone in particular…..We have your back girl!!! Thank You

  20. John Payson says:

    Any locking or barricade device must necessarily do one of two things:

    1. Allow a bad person outside the room who acquires the right sort of key to enter.

    2. Prevent people outside a room from stopping bad actions by someone inside.

    I think the best argument against most such devices–even if they don’t interfere with egress–is that #2 creates dangers that would not exist absent the locking device, and which can only be mitigated by replacing them with #1, while #1 can be mitigated by making it harder for a malefactor to acquire the right kind of key.

    What I’d like to see as a common approach would be for doors to be operable using two separate kinds of keys, one of which will operate them unless an emergency locking mechanism is engaged from the inside, and the other of which will operate them even if that mechanism is engaged. I don’t think that should be particularly difficult to accomplish mechanically (one could, for example, have an extra-long core, and allow the rear portion of the lock housing to swivel freely except when the emergency lock was engaged) but if possession of the longer emergency-override keys is limited to armed security personnel, the likelihood of malefactors acquiring them could be reduced.

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