Campus Safety Takes Stand Against Non-Code-Compliant Door Barricades

Campus Safety will no longer accept ads or sponsorships from companies whose door barricades don’t comply with ADA and NFPA codes.

Campus Safety Takes Stand Against Non-Code-Compliant Door Barricades

Photo iStock

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.


Robin Hattersley is the editor-in-chief of Campus Safety, and Steve Nesbitt is the publisher of Campus Safety.

Read More Articles Like This… With A FREE Subscription

Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

Get your free subscription today!


4 responses to “Campus Safety Takes Stand Against Non-Code-Compliant Door Barricades”

  1. While this article may have the tiniest whiff of virtue-signaling, I applaud the decision. Keeping a campus safe and welcoming is more than just keeping the bad guys with guns out; we also must ensure that all on campus have access, and that all on campus are safe from other disasters, such as fire.

    Good job!

  2. Robert Richards says:

    Sorry, but this feels very much like an attempt to peddle more overpriced technology to lock doors (electronic, etc.)

  3. Tony Ramaeker says:

    First, what do you classify as an expert? I’ve spoken to a whole lot of “experts” that have no stand in reality. For example, There hasn’t been a student killed in a school fire since 1958. The fire codes the schools are built on prevent that from happening. The fire-proof or fire-retardant materials that almost everything in the school consist of is ridiculously expensive but effective. Fire-suppression systems, such as sprinklers, Keep any fire that may happen contained. So that means that what the fire experts are doing is working. No deaths in 60 years.

    Now… how many students have died in those 60 years from violence. The answer is 518. Those numbers will be artificially low due to reporting criteria. Zero from fire, 518 from violence (these are only shooting-deaths); where should our priority shift? The fire code needs to be updated to INCLUDE violence safety. We can’t be working against the safety of our kids just because one group is better at lobbying. Shooters are using the archaic laws against us to engage and kill our kids. That screams for improved and updated laws. CS “taking a stand” means nothing more than bowing down to monetary interest. They have more money behind them so one has to cave. Think I’m wrong? Look at government grants for fire-safety and compare that to violence safety. Again, zero dead from fire, 518 dead from violence (shootings only). I urge CS to take a look at real expertise and raw data. Then make a non-political decision on how we should keep our kids safe.

  4. Donald E. White says:

    Thanks to Campus Safety Editor Robin Hattersley for the publishing decision regarding the clever and timely door barricades. As learned from Virginia deputy state fire marshals who co-presented with me at three Virginia statewide safety workshops in Oct 2018, no such devices yet approved for use in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Donald E. White, Former Director of Safety and Security, Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, Falls Church, VA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety HQ