Ask the Expert (Access Control)

What should we know about temporary door locking devices?

Classroom barricade devices, which are added to existing classroom door openings, are not compliant with the model fire codes and building codes used in most U.S. states.

These codes, designed to ensure the safety of building occupants, require door hardware that allows free egress, meets the accessibility standards and does not negatively impact fire protection. In order for other locking methods to be allowable by code, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) must approve any devices or the code must be modified. Even if a local code change is made, some devices may not meet the federal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The reasoning behind proposed changes is often based on the misconception that barricading the door is the only way to protect classroom occupants. There are code-compliant locks readily available from many lock manufacturers that provide the needed security without compromising safety in favor of lower cost. While locks address one aspect of classroom security requirements, there are other factors to consider, such as the door, frame, glass, key distribution, communication and lockdown procedures.

An additional concern is the potential for an unauthorized person to install the barricade device and secure the classroom in order to commit a crime. Once in place, many of the devices currently on the market restrict all access from the outside, preventing a staff member or emergency responder from entering the room to help. Before considering the use of classroom barricade devices, a consultation with legal counsel is advised in order to understand any liability issues that may exist.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management September 2016 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Lori Greene, DAHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, FDHI is the manager of Codes & Resources with Allegion.