When I first started seeing news reports about decommissioned fire hoses being used to secure classroom doors, it was so disappointing and depressing that I just deleted the Google Alert and moved on. But enough people have asked me about this security method, that I guess I have to respond.
First, here’s one of the stories from KGUNTV:
There is a print article from the Glendale Star here which includes the photo to the right. In both stories, firefighters promote the use of old fire hoses cut into short pieces, to secure classroom doors by sliding them over the closer arm.
I do realize today is Wordless Wednesday, but even though the idea of firefighters promoting a security method that restricts egress leaves me wordless, I have a few comments.
1) The percentage of classroom doors with a parallel arm closer is very low. Many classroom doors swing in, and most classroom doors across the country do not have closers because current codes do not require most classroom doors to be self-closing. If schools think they can get 100 sleeves from the fire department and their problem is solved, what they may actually be getting is a false sense of security.
2) In the photo to the right, the door is equipped with panic hardware. This indicates that it’s probably serving an occupant load of 50 people or more and should allow free and immediate egress. If this panic hardware is latched and the outside lever locked, it will provide far superior security to a piece of fire hose, as will a traditional lockset. In the video you can see that the door still opens partway when the sleeve is installed.
3) During an active assailant situation, a teacher will have to approach the door and reach up to install the sleeve. In the school shootings in Parkland and Santa Fe, students and teachers were injured or killed while trying to lock or barricade the classroom door.
4) If an unauthorized person uses this sleeve to “lock” the door and secure the room to commit an assault, sexual assault, or other crime, the sleeve can not be removed from the outside by a teacher or emergency responder. The 2018 model codes require classroom doors to be able to be unlocked from the outside with a key or other approved means. The fire hose method does not meet this code requirement, not to mention the egress or accessibility requirements.
5) As a last resort, I support using whatever is on hand to secure/barricade the door. AS A LAST RESORT. But if we have time to look at the school’s current situation and plan the response – is this REALLY the best we can do?
Firefighters – I still love you, but this is not the best way to secure a classroom door. 🙁
Photo: Cary Hines, Glendale Star