Over the past year I’ve been collecting school security information from various states, and adding links to the school security page of iDigHardware.  Last week I received an advisory from Greg Thomson of Allegion, that made me so happy I got a little misty.

While some states are allowing schools to use classroom barricade devices because of pressure to find a quick-fix for school security, Massachusetts and many other states require hardware on classroom doors to comply with the requirements of the model codes adopted in those states.

The Massachusetts advisory was sent by the State Fire Marshal and the Division of Professional Licensure, to the heads of all fire departments and building departments in the state.  The document addresses multiple safety requirements for schools, including fire alarms and drills, lockdown plans, and security for classroom doors and egress doors.  Here is an excerpt (the full advisory is here):

Classroom and egress doors must comply with the provisions of Chapter 10 of the building code. These doors are critical components in the means of egress system and must be maintained in a safe manner to allow students and staff to exit the building. Specifically, the code requires all egress doors to be readily openable from the egress side with a single operation, and without the use of a key, special knowledge, or effort. The majority of retrofit classroom door security and barricade devices do not comply with this requirement and are not permitted to be installed. However, there are door locking devices available which do comply with the requirements of the building code and can provide a level of safety while still maintaining egress from within the classrooms and other spaces. For the installation of any door hardware in new or existing buildings, refer to Chapter 10 of the building code and consult with the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) for specific requirements and allowances.

Door locking devices must comply with the following:

  • Door hardware must meet accessibility requirements and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate.
  • Door hardware must be installed between 34” and 48” above the finished floor.
  • Manually operated bolt locks or surface locks are not permitted to be used.
  • The unlatching of any door or door leaf must not require more than one action.
  • Doors may be electromagnetically locked in accordance with 780 CMR 1010.1.9.9.
  • Panic or fire exit hardware is required on latching doors along the means of egress, which serve 50 or more people.

Emergency Planning and Preparedness in Schools:  The best policy is to ensure classroom doors are provided with single action locks and to keep the doors closed and locked at all times during school operation. Doors may prevent entering anytime; however, they cannot restrict exiting.

Has your state issued any guidance on school security?  Please send it to me!


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