New Bill Would Allow Illinois Schools to Add Barricades to Classroom Doors

If the bill becomes a law, Illinois will be the fourth state in the Midwest to allow certain barricades, most of which aren’t ADA or fire code compliant, to be used in lockdown situations.

New Bill Would Allow Illinois Schools to Add Barricades to Classroom Doors

Door locks should be ADA- and NFPA-code compliant as well as lockable from the inside of the room.

A bill made it through the Illinois Senate on Friday that would allow schools to add barricades, or extra lock mechanisms, to classroom doors, which are currently illegal in Illinois and in most of the United States.

If the bill passes, Illinois will be the fourth state in the Midwest, joining Kansas, Michigan and Ohio, to allow these types of barricades to be used in lockdown situations. Classroom barricades generally do not comply with fire codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Law enforcement and fire officials are hesitant about the bill because the barricade devices add an extra barrier in the case of an emergency, reports Newschannel 20.

“We’re in favor of any bill to help protect our children better, however, we also need to be aware that there could be other secondary concerns based off the first one,” said Sangamon county Sheriff Jack Campbell.

Campus security experts have been extremely vocal about the importance of schools purchasing code-compliant classroom barricade devices that lock from the inside. In December, Campus Safety magazine came out against the use of door blocking devices and stopped accepting ads or sponsorships from any company whose door barricades don’t comply with ADA of NFPA Codes.

“…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,” said CS.

Additionally, barricades have been used by assailants to trap their victims inside school buildings and classrooms.

However, bill supporters say the adoption of barricade devices is necessary.

“For us as a state to tell these people, ‘No, no, no, you can’t do that,’ are you serious?” said Mahomet Senator Chapmin Rose, who is sponsoring the bill. “This is what our police are telling us to do and what they’re training to do and yet the State Board of Education and the State Fire Marshal’s Office says you can’t do that.”

“You’re never going to stop everything,” Rose added. “We know that. Anybody who is crazy and intent, where there’s a will, there’s an unfortunate way, to the extent which we can provide any additional protection. That ought to be the goal.”

If the bill passes, schools would be required to give police and fire officials tools to open the locks.

About the Author

Katie Malafronte
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Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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7 responses to “New Bill Would Allow Illinois Schools to Add Barricades to Classroom Doors”

  1. Chris Smoot says:

    Risk management is always about priorities. If barricades are used during Active Killer events, the ACTUAL threat takes precedence over POTENTIAL fire threat.

  2. James Bolling says:

    The last student killed in a K-12 school fire was in 1958. Now compare that with the number of students killed in active shooter incidents over the past 60 years. Why no one in the fire service wants to put a higher priority on protecting student’s lives in an event that is more likely is beyond me. How about we do the right thing and determine what effective barriers that will stop, or at the very least slow, an active shooter and then if those effective devices do not meet fire code we do something that no one has suggested……. We change fire code to allow it……. Saving lives is always a good idea. Let’s work together to get it done.
    Stop stopping your feet and saying “that is against fire code”.

  3. Sal Emma says:

    You should check out TeacherLock. It’s the first barricade which is ADA compliant and was designed of easy egress along with an emergency responder key.

  4. JOHN BOOTH says:

    Amen, James Bolling, as Lt. Col. Grossman always says, Johnny Firefighter is an A+ student he has trained us to be prepared against the fire, we have fire extinguishers, we have fire sprinklers, fire retardant materials, we train childre and adults on what to do and not do in case of a fire, but Johnny is set in his ways, he’s not use to hearing “NO”, but as you said it’s about doing the right thing it’s not about this or that code, it’s about saving lives from a more prevalent danger.

  5. Steve Drummond says:

    The article you published re: classroom door security is very distressing, and in fact, misleading. I know the National Fire Code and certain regulatory groups do not endorse secondary devices, but there are reasonable accommodations and means to keep students safe without compromising their safety in a fire. For example, many or most classrooms have doors that push out, and the only way to secure the occupants in an active threat scenario is to either disable the door closer with a belt (to prevent the door from opening), and/or pile furniture in the doorway to keep the intruder out. I think we all agree that if the occupants must get out, or rescuers must get in, either of these impromptu fixes will cost lives. We don’t want that. This was evident in the Va Tech shooting, in which the one classroom that was able to have its doors locked or secured from the inside permitted its occupants to avoid being shot, while other classrooms nearby allowed the shooter to enter, and kill occupants.

    What you did, however, by showing a picture of a lock and chain on the exterior of entry doors, is to suggest that students would be locked-in a room, and unable to exit. That is totally false, and inflammatory. There are devices (not locks) that can be retrieved and installed ONLY WHEN a gunshot is heard, and can be opened from the outside, by first responders. You’re the expert: Is that better or worse than blocking the doorway with furniture?

    What your article did was disparage the efforts of state legislators, who are looking for practical ways to protect students. You did not quote any school security directors or campus police chiefs, who know what works, and what doesn’t. I have 41 years of law enforcement experience, including 21 years in K-12 and higher education. I would not want to be the school official who told grieving parents that we couldn’t provide a way to lock their child’s door in a crisis, and that we allowed the shooter to simply walk in.

    So allow me to present you with an alternative: There are devices sold nationally, and used in many schools and public buildings, that consist of a small plate on the floor, a plate on the door, and a “key” in a wall-mounted box that can be dropped into place and keep the door from being opened by the suspect. No furniture piled up, no wires, belts or ropes holding doors shut, and no door wedges that keep first responders out. Police and Fire simply ask school administration or campus police for the closest unlocking device (placed in many spots around the campus, used to lift the “key” out of the slot), with which to enter the room. These are not “locks” by traditional definition. They are life-saving devices, used once in a lifetime (or never), to keep the shooter out of a room. Are these any different than extraordinary devices like a chain fire ladder or cable to use when climbing out a window and down the exterior wall of a building? Are these Fire Code compliant? When lives are in danger, and death is imminent, I hope you’ll agree that the rules change, and we need to be imaginative in keeping people safe.

    I hope you take this email seriously, and consider a follow-up article with interviews of experienced campus public safety directors; speak to some of the most popular secondary device manufacturers (like the Night Lock), and avoid inflammatory photos (like the chain lock). I think you owe this balance to your readers.

  6. Tucker says:

    It warms my heart that people are not accepting this verbatim. The fact is- when lives are in emanant danger using a simple to apply barricade- that will add a significant level of security is obvious. Fire code is out the window! A survival code or a life safety code needs to take precedence.

    I agree a set of defined rules should apply to barricadeing devices. They should be able to be opened by first responders and easily applied in a crisis. Saying a device is ADA compliant only because it is high off the ground is alarming! The middle portion of a door is the weakest part of the door. And if a classroom, like in my son’s school, has a glass window a suspect can break the glass and reach in and open the ADA approved device.

    My district tested numerous locks with the help of our local sheriffs. We invited the fire department as well. Together we collectively chose a devise that was simple to deploy, added significant strength to the door by securing itself to the floor, and was unlockable by first responders and school administrators.

    Our children are safe to learn and our students with disabilities have a place to seek shelter and efficiently egress if necessary.

    Our decision was simple. Protect the kids now. Worry about code compliance later.

  7. Mike says:

    Come on the classroom doors should be locked during the day when school is in session. Building keys are in the Knox box at the front door fire and police can retrieve the keys and enter the building as needed.

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