I’m sure some of you will remember what happened in Tennessee – I wrote about it in this post. First, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal enforced the adopted fire code to have barricaded doors in schools brought back into compliance (there’s a good news report here). Then, a sheriff in Tennessee raised money for barricade devices for a school district, even though they were not compliant with the state codes. Finally, the requirements for free egress in Tennessee were quietly changed, to allow the sheriff’s barricade devices.
The gist of the recent story is that classroom barricade devices protected the lives of students during the shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, therefore, all schools in Tennessee should have barricade devices too. In reality, we don’t know whether the barricade devices at the high school in Michigan played a part in preventing the shooter from accessing the classrooms, as a detailed report has not yet been released. Now Michigan legislators are proposing a change to the state law, in order to allow barricade devices to be used on egress doors serving assembly spaces in schools – cafeterias, gymnasiums, auditoriums, libraries, etc.
We need to continue to educate school administrators, teachers, parents, students, law enforcement, and code officials on the importance of a balance of school security AND safety. I’m afraid of the outcome of this positive media focus on retrofit devices that may deter egress during an emergency, as well as access by emergency responders.