Last week I wrote a post about how compartmentalization could be used to limit access from one area of a school to another during an active-assailant situation.  I asked our specwriters to find me some floor plans of schools where this security method would be feasible, and there are two such plans shown on that blog post.

I received a third plan, which showed something a little different from the first two – designated by the red rectangles in the partial plan below (the full plan is here):

The building elements in the red rectangles looked a lot like “special purpose” doors (often called Won-Doors as that is a common brand name).  In fact, the specwriter confirmed that these are Won-Doors (the Fireguard model), which are power-operated and slide out of pockets in the corridor walls to separate the entry halls from the corridors that lead to the athletics and STEAM hallways.  In addition to providing fire protection, the doors in this school are a security feature – closing automatically upon a signal from the office during a lockdown.  The occupants of each wing will exit through doors leading from the individual classrooms and the gym, or through the corridor doors at the far ends – avoiding the main entrance area.  During a typical school day, the doors would be folded into the pockets, leaving the entire width and height of the corridors open.

The egress requirements for this type of door are specifically addressed in the model codes.  In the 2018 International Building Code (IBC), Section 1010.1.2 – Door Swing, requires egress doors to be pivoted or side-hinged swinging doors, but there are 9 exceptions.  One of those exceptions (#6) states:  In other than Group H occupancies, special purpose horizontal sliding, accordion or folding door assemblies complying with Section 1010.1.4.3.

Section 1010.1.4.3 requires these doors to meet the following requirements:

  • Doors must be power operated and capable of being operated manually during a power failure.
  • Doors must be openable from both sides using a simple method, without special knowledge or effort.  [Note: Since the doors in this school are being used for security as well as fire, the code official may have approved a modification to this requirement that requires the doors to be openable from both sides.]
  • The force to open the door must not exceed 30 pounds to set the door in motion, and 15 pounds to close the door or to open it to the minimum required width.
  • The door must be openable with a force of 15 pounds, maximum, when a force of 250 pounds is applied perpendicular to the door, adjacent to the operating device.
  • The assembly must comply with the required fire protection rating, and where rated, must be self-closing or automatic-closing upon smoke detection.  Fire doors must be installed in accordance with NFPA 80 and must comply with Section 716 of the IBC.
  • The assembly must have an integrated standby power supply.  The power supply must be electrically supervised.
  • Within 10 seconds after activation of the operating device, the door must open to the minimum required width.


Here’s a video about using a special purpose door for school security:

What do you think about using a special-purpose door for security compartmentalization?

Floor plan courtesy of LSW Architects

Videos courtesy of Won-Door

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