For the past 4+ years, many of us have struggled with how to help school administrators and facility managers understand the safety risks associated with using retrofit security devices commonly called classroom barricade devices. In an interesting coincidence, three articles on barricade devices / barricading arrived in my inbox this morning via Google Alerts.
The first is from FOX 66 News, and is called Grand Blanc school district takes proactive step towards keeping students safe. From the video in the news report, it looks like the classroom door has a classroom security lock, which is lockable from the inside with a key. It’s disheartening to see money spent on 1400 barricade devices that could be misused, and are not needed for securing these classroom doors that are already equipped with locksets.
By the end of April, Grand Blanc Community Schools will have nearly 1400 barricaded locks installed in all their buildings. And it’s thanks to a special grant they received from the @mspbayregion. I’ll have details LIVE at 6 on @nbc25fox66 pic.twitter.com/eG1S06Ztdf
— Alysia Burgio (@AlysiaBurgioTV) April 9, 2019
The next article is from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, and is called Charges: Duluth job coach shared plans for school, theater shootings. This article describes how a job coach in a school cafeteria made comments to a relative referring to a school shooter as “my hero,” comparing his own firearm capabilities to those of the man who killed 58 people in Las Vegas, and describing how he could barricade a movie theater and shoot people like “fish in a barrel.”
Details of these discussions/texts as well as the guns owned by this man are included in the article. It’s disturbing to read, but clearly illustrates the connection between restricting egress in order to trap the intended victims and increase the number of casualties. School shootings have already occurred where doors barricaded by the shooter delayed law enforcement response and increased the length of the active-shooter event (examples: Virginia Tech, Platte Canyon High School, West Nickel Mines Amish Schoolhouse). What is it going to take for people to understand the risks associated with providing the means for anyone to barricade the door?
The third article was posted on Lexology, a website that publishes more than 450 articles every day, from leading law firms around the world. This article, by Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, is called Classroom Safety Barricades: Safety Measure or a Dangerous Violation of the Law? and shares the legal perspective on classroom barricade devices.
The article focuses on the 2018 model codes as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act, and mentions some states that have gone around the adopted code requirements in order to allow barricade devices. One point that was missed is that code requirements prohibiting devices which restrict egress were in place long before the 2018 editions of the codes. Although the early versions of the model codes were not as specific, NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code has required one operation to release the latch since the 1986 edition. The International Building Code and International Fire Code have included this requirement since their first editions in 2000, as did the legacy codes on which the i-Codes are based. There is more on the legalities of classroom barricade devices here.