Are Door Barricade Devices Safe to Use?
Most schools across the U.S. will open their doors and welcome back students for a new school year in August or September, every year.
With every new school year, though, comes safety and security challenges, including active shooter events, which threaten the safe haven that a school is supposed to provide to enable effective student learning.
As of September 2019, there have been 215 school shootings across the country since 2013, according to information from Everytown Research Group. As a result, school districts across the U.S. are continuously increasing school security through tactics and technology that is focused on combatting physical threats, to include software systems, video surveillance, metal detectors, fencing, active shooter drills, and more security staff.
Some schools also keep door barricades on hand and ready to use during an active shooter situation. Yet, there is much debate about their use.
Some security professionals and other industry advocates and consultants oppose the use of door barricades in schools. They argue that door barricades violate building codes, fire codes, and life safety standards. An additional barrier to opening a door could lead to safety issues, particularly for individuals with physical and visual disabilities.
Worse, some door barricades cannot be removed from the outside, so first responders or staff members with keys to the classroom door would not be able to enter the room once the barricade was in place. Another argument against their use is that door barricades can give away a student’s location when the devices are seen from the outside of a door. Barricades may also be difficult to use or require special training.
Still, there is interest in the devices, which can effectively keep a door closed. In 2015, a group of Southwest Licking, Ohio parents raised $30,000 to outfit every classroom in the district with door stops to keep out potential armed intruders. District officials thought they had approval from local fire inspectors to use the door barricades – however, they did not, and that led to a battle in the state legislature. Ultimately, state Senator Jay Hottinger was able to incorporate language into the state’s operating budget to permit the use of the doorstops in emergency situations.
There can be benefits to using a door barricade device that is selected, installed, and operated correctly. For example, a door barricade can slow down a shooter’s ability to move through a school. Some devices are easy to install, and when compliant with building and/or fire codes, can stop a door from being opened. Some door barricades can be easy to set up and remove, and many are affordable. In addition, some have electronic beacons inside their casing which when opened can send an alert to security, administrators, and other security-related technology located on the campus.
For example, compliant door barricade devices can also work in conjunction with a software-based lockdown system and/or access control system that can minimize the time it takes to notify law enforcement and lock down a school.
A software lockdown system can be used on computers or mobile devices. It sends emergency notifications to school security, administration, and even first responders to begin their security protocol procedures, which can include implementing door barricades, even before any hard-wired sirens or physical alerts are initiated.
In the event of an active shooter situation, having a door barricade and a lockdown solution can buy time. If a door takes too long for an intruder to open, he may leave and look for an easier target. And when school administration has the opportunity and ability to instantly alert teachers, students, staff, and visitors to an active shooter situation, they can dramatically increase the odds of those involved to survive an active shooter event.
Learn more about the SILVERSHIELD Visitor Management System.
Robin Baker oversees the design and development of SilverShield, a cloud-based Visitor & Emergency Management System, and was also instrumental in ARMS, an anti-piracy security application for the safety of ships and crews at sea. In addition, Robin was also the founder of Learning Today, now known as iReady. Robin works with Schools, as well as Security and Software Development Teams internationally to improve the safety and security of schools today. American Heritage School of Plantation and Boca/Delray has adopted SilverShield and can speak about its effectiveness on their campus as well.
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