As I’ve mentioned before, the model code requirements used in most US states do not allow classroom barricade devices which require a second operation to unlatch the door. Although there are a few states (Ohio, Arkansas, and Utah) where state legislators have forced a modification to the codes, and a few more where fire marshals are allowing some types of retrofit security devices, the vast majority of states are enforcing their adopted codes.
I have done a lot of research regarding past school shootings, lessons learned, and changes made. What’s interesting is that in states that have experienced school shootings with the highest loss of life, the response has not been to throw out the codes in favor of increased security. It IS possible for security and safety to coexist – it’s NOT necessary to ignore the codes that protect life safety when code-compliant security products are readily available.
As we all know, Connecticut is home to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 students and 6 teachers and school administrators were killed in a 2012 shooting. Security is obviously a top priority for Connecticut schools, but so is life safety. Last week, the Connecticut Office of the State Fire Marshal issued a letter which mentions several issues related to classroom barricade devices – more than one operation to unlatch the door, special knowledge and effort to operate, the required mounting height of operable hardware (34-48 inches AFF), and ADA concerns about devices which require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate. The state fire marshal concludes by stating:
“Based on these concerns, use of this type of security device is in direct conflict with the Connecticut State Fire Safety Code. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has not approved any of these devices for use in Connecticut.”
You can read the complete document here. I have added this letter to the list of resources on the Schools page of iDigHardware. If you have related documentation from any state, please send it along and I will post it.
Thank you to everyone who forwarded this letter to me. I appreciate your help keeping track of what is happening in each state.