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As schools have sought ways to protect their students and staff from an active shooter, many have turned to measures which ultimately can cause more harm than good. To help resolve the hurdles to effective and safe door hardening strategies, the National Fire Protection Association has released an emergency amendment addressing the types of locks allowed on school classroom doors.
Previously, schools were required by the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, to use lock/latch sets utilizing a single releasing operation when retrofitting classroom doors. Some schools decided this requirement was cost-prohibitive, according to NFPA, and resorted to stop-gap measures such as barricades, door wedges, rope, and other items. “It was determined by the Committees that a second, more cost-effective door lock/latch combination utilizing a second releasing operation would continue to deliver a high level of safety to students and staff while minimizing the need for well-intentioned but dangerously misguided applications,” says Gregory Harrington, principal engineer at NFPA, according to an NFPA release.
The Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) in NFPA 101 allows that existing school doors can be retrofitted with secondary hardware, to be used in lieu of single operation hardware which combines a latch and lock together. The secondary hardware solution is only applicable to retrofit existing classroom doors.
An updated FAQ page on school door safety can be found here.
Naomi Millán is senior editor of Building Operating Management.
FacilitiesNet Podcast, FMs Next Gen Podcast, Episode 3: Daniel Mathis, facilities director of Grace Baptist Church and Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, Tenn.