Oxford Shooting Update: A Warning About Non-Code-Compliant Door Barricade Devices
Most door barricade devices don’t comply with ADA and NFPA codes. They also pose other major risks.
Editor’s Note: The article below originally ran on CampusSafetyMagazine.com in December 2018, but I’m re-posting it because claims are being made that barricade devices were used to keep the active shooter out of classrooms at Oxford High School in Michigan during the November 30 school mass shooting.
There have been calls on various social media platforms by parents and other members of the public to have these types of barricade devices installed in all schools across America. It’s my understanding that even the Wall Street Journal has run an article about this topic.
Before any school district or college campus runs out and spends a lot of money on these barricade devices, they need to remember that the after-action report on this tragedy has not been publicized yet, so we don’t know the following:
- If barricade devices were actually used
- If they were used, if they actually worked
- If they created other problems that were potentially life-threatening
More importantly, even if these devices did save lives at Oxford High School, most door barricade products pose the following risks:
- They could be used by criminals to trap students, teachers and other individuals inside a classroom
- Under some circumstances, even persons who don’t have any disabilities could be prevented from evacuating a building during an emergency when these products are used
- They could prevent individuals with disabilities from evacuating a building during an emergency, such as a fire
- Most door barricade devices on the market violate the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) as well as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes
- Barricade devices only address one issue: assailants with weapons, such as guns and knives, so the campuses investing in these devices aren’t getting the most “bang for their buck.” It’s wise to adopt solutions that address a multitude of risks. For example, access control and ADA and NFPA-compliant locks and door hardware not only keep out an active shooter (by the way, the chances of a student being killed by an active shooter are extremely small), they help prevent vandalism and theft (which happen much more frequently than active shooter attacks).
- Barricade devices present significant liability exposures.
It is for these reasons that Campus Safety magazine, CampusSafetyMagazine.com and the Campus Safety Conferences stopped accepting advertising or sponsorships from non-ADA and non-NFPA door barricade vendors.
Before investing in any security solution, schools, colleges and healthcare organizations should obtain guidance and support from vetted and qualified consultants, systems integrators, engineers and other vendors. Doing so will ensure the organization spends its precious and limited resources wisely and only installs products that are safe.
Original December 2018 Article:
Campus Safety Takes Stand Against Non-Code-Compliant Door Barricades
Campus Safety, the brand that schools, universities and healthcare facilities have come to know and trust for more than a quarter century, is facing a crossroads of conscience. As many of you know, in recent years there has been a proliferation of door blocking devices hitting the market. The intention of the companies that manufacture these barricades is to save lives by preventing active shooters from entering classrooms or other areas where students, faculty, clinicians or others might be taking shelter.
However, these devices come with risk because they could prevent individuals with disabilities and, under some circumstances, even persons who don’t have any disabilities from evacuating a building during an emergency, such as a fire. That’s why access control and lock experts say these door barricades violate the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) as well as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes. Although some jurisdictions are allowing these products to be adopted for situations requiring lockdown, experts say the risks outweigh the benefits. Multiple experts, organizations and associations have come out against door blocking devices.
Over the past several years, Campus Safety has described in great detail the challenges with these devices in numerous print and online editorials and in sessions at our Campus Safety Conferences, while maintaining strict abidance to our long-standing editorial policy to never endorse a particular product. Our stance has been to lay out as much information as possible and let you, the campus safety experts, make your own product, technology, policy and training choices.
At the same time, Campus Safety has accepted advertising from various door barricade companies.
But our conscience has been stirred to the breaking point, driven by the potential dangers of barricade devices to students, faculty, administrators, clinicians, patients and others. Thus, Campus Safety, with the support of our parent company Emerald Expositions, is publicly choosing to no longer accept advertising or sponsorships from non-ADA and non-NFPA compliant door barricade companies. Quite simply, it is the right thing to do.
ASIS, PASS, DSSF & DHI Applaud CS Policy Change
Campus Safety’s policy change is being applauded by a wide range of campus security experts, associations and other organizations:
- “ASIS International School Safety & Security Council appreciates Campus Safety magazine’s and the Campus Safety Conferences’ change in direction regarding dangerous non-code compliant barricade devices. While we know schools are anxious to provide quick solutions for active shooter situations, we must make sure that life safety codes are respected and avoid the potential harm to a student, teacher or anyone else who could be trapped in a classroom against their will without the ability to escape. The Council looks forward to bringing best practices to the readers of Campus Safety.” — Mark J. Berger, Chair, ASIS international School Safety & Security Council
- “The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) fully supports the stand Campus Safety magazine and the Campus Safety Conferences are taking on barricade and ‘door-blocker’ devices. We stand with other organizations including the National Association of State Fire Marshals, Safe and Sound Schools, Secure Schools Alliance, Door and Hardware Institute, Door Security and Safety Foundation, Security Industry Association and many more in opposing the deployment of these devices. In addition to life safety and fire code challenges, these devices also violate the ADA law. There are code- and ADA-compliant solutions that work and are currently in use in most schools. According to the Sandy Hook Commission, there is not one documented instance of an active shooter breaching a locked door. We have additional concerns with many of these devices that interfere with the efforts of emergency responders to quickly and safely reach staff and students during emergencies. At a time when many districts are re-evaluating their security measures and making new investments, it is now more critical than ever to ensure the use of proven, vetted and code-compliant security practices and make the most of limited resources.” — Guy Grace, PASS Chairman
- “Door Security and Safety Foundation (DSSF) and Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) thanks Campus Safety Magazine and the Campus Safety Conferences for recognizing the dangerous unintended consequences of installing non-code compliant barricade devices on campus classroom doors. While barricade devices are perceived as providing security, they violate fire and life safety building codes including the Americans with Disabilities Act. DSSF is committed to ensuring that campuses are safe havens for students, faculty, administrators and visitors.” — Jerry Heppes DSSF and DHI CEO
Campuses Must Carefully Select Solutions
The door barricade conundrum highlights the larger issue of how schools, universities and hospitals select the safety and security solutions and policies they implement. It is critical for a college campus, school district or healthcare organization to hire vetted and qualified consultants, systems integrators, engineers and other vendors for guidance on this task.
For the most part (although not always), these professionals should have experience working on your type of campus or organization. For example, a K-12 district should probably consult with an expert in school security. The expert should also have experience in dealing with the particular issue your campus wants addressed. For example, a university wanting to be able to quickly lockdown its classroom doors should consult with a professional who fully understands ADA and NFPA codes.
Additionally, multiple campus stakeholders as well as those in your community should be involved in the decision-making process so one person’s lack of expertise on a particular topic can be addressed by the others. Those stakeholders should include administrators, the C-suite, the superintendent, law enforcement, IT, security system technicians, architects, facilities, fire, emergency management, faculty, clinicians, parents, students (when appropriate) and more.
It’s also important to note that every security and public safety solution and policy — even if it is ADA- and NFPA-code compliant — carries with it some risk. That’s why Campus Safety regularly covers equipment selection, installation, deployment, maintenance, policy and training best practices. We urge all school, university and healthcare facility stakeholders to review this content on CampusSafetyMagazine.com, in our print publication and at our conferences. It is our mission to have every school, university and hospital in America adopt the best solutions possible for their specific situation and campus, install them in the proper locations, support them with the appropriate policies and use them correctly.
We trust that our decision to not accept advertisements or sponsorships from non-ADA and non-NFPA-code compliant door barricade companies will help clear up any confusion surrounding the complex issue of campus lockdowns and active shooter response.