I’m a big believer in finding a good solution / best practice and applying it consistently. Of course, if a better idea comes along, I adjust my process if it makes sense to do so. But I’m not the type of person who just randomly jumps from one plan to the next…maybe that’s why I like codes so much.
I feel the same way about school security – let’s find the best way to handle the various types of openings and apply those practices consistently. There will always be some variation based on existing conditions, door types, facility preferences, etc. but consistently applying best practices translates to greater security and safety.
I think this is one of the reasons I’m having such a hard time with random state legislation which ignores the established life safety codes and recommendations so that a wide variety of gadgets can be used to lock classroom doors. I feel like a broken record, but there are so many potential problems when doors are secured without considering egress/evacuation, fire protection, accessibility, and unauthorized lockdown (you can read about those concerns here).
Over the weekend I saw a news report (embedded below) from WHEC News 10 in New York. The story is about a proposed change to NY law, which would allow schools to use “doorstops” (classroom barricade devices and other methods of keeping a door closed). You can read the complete bill here, but here’s the main text that will be considered in the next legislative session:
“Optional emergency doorstops. Notwithstanding any law, rule or regulation to the contrary, all school districts may utilize doorstops or any improvised or manufactured devices designed to prevent a door from being opened during an emergency in classrooms during emergency situations to prevent access to such classrooms. For purposes of this section, emergency situation shall not include any situation involving a fire hazard.”
The New York State Manual of Planning for School Buildings currently requires: “Hardware on doors from spaces of pupil occupancy shall be a type which will always permit the door to be opened from the inside without direct manipulation of any type locking device.” (Section S105-1)
Why would state legislators consider removing a requirement that ensures free egress and the option of evacuating, and replacing it with language that allows just about anything (“ANY improvised or manufactured devices”)? How is a teacher supposed to know if the current emergency involves a fire hazard? Why does each state need its own rules for classroom security? Wouldn’t it be better to continue to have a consistent approach used nationwide?
Here’s the news report: