I have written dozens of articles and blog posts on school safety and security, but it’s extra-exciting when someone else writes about this topic and is in alignment with the safety requirements mandated by the model codes.
There’s an article in the current issue of American School & University Magazine that addresses how doors can help to provide safer classrooms for students and teachers. The author recognizes the value of a locked door, but doesn’t recommend adding retrofit security devices. He references guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the Door Security & Safety Foundation (DSSF).
Could the school safety AND security message finally be getting through? Here’s an excerpt from the article:
As school administrators have been convinced that classroom doors need security-minded upgrades, some have been tempted to acquire additional equipment to make it more difficult for someone to force a door open from the outside.
These barrier devices are attached to doors and make it more difficult for someone to enter. But many of the devices can’t be quickly disengaged from doors, and that makes it harder for occupants to quickly open a door and get out of a classroom.
The devices also may interfere with the efforts of firefighters and other emergency responders to gain access to a classroom in a timely manner. Because a fire in a school is much more likely than a school shooting incident, the barriers may end up doing more harm than good.
Those concerns are what prompted the state fire marshal’s association to discourage the use of such devices.
“When selecting hardware which allows classroom doors to be lockable from inside the room, consideration must be given to the risks and potential consequences of utilizing a device which blocks the door from the inside, potentially impeding or preventing immediate egress by occupants,” the association stated in 2018. “Devices which prevent classroom doors from being unlocked and opened from outside the classroom may place the inhabitants of the room in peril.”