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The threat of active shooters has rewritten the rules for many institutional and commercial facilities, especially in the education market. New schools feature designs intended to thwart easy access and movement. Students take part in active-shooter drills. Manufacturers roll out an array of new products designed to prevent access and movement in an emergency.
At the University of Michigan, a false report of an active shooter was all it took to prompt a change in the door hardware designed to protect students, faculty, and staff. The university will install locks on all classroom and lab doors inside a building where reports of an active shooter triggered campus-wide panic last spring, according to U.S. News & World Report. The sound of balloons popping during a sorority team-building event in Mason Hall in March caused fear at a nearby vigil for victims of the deadly New Zealand mosque shootings, and set off the active shooter alert .
Mason Hall will pilot new security measures that aim to help faculty, staff and students facilitate a faster lockdown in the case of an emergency, the university said Wednesday
"The hope is in an emergency, regardless of what that might be, if people need to lock from the inside out, this will be a faster way than having to grab furniture and barricade themselves inside of a room," says Kim Broekhuizen, a university spokesman.
In March, the school's Department of Public Safety and Security issued an alert telling students who were near Mason Hall to "run, hide, fight." About 40 minutes later, the university sent another alert saying there "does not appear to be an active threat to the community."
Broekhuizen says Mason Hall's central location, its number of classrooms and the fact that it is an older building were other factors in choosing it to pilot the locks. The Mason Hall pilot will give the university a better idea of the way the locks work and the types of locks needed with a number of different, older doors inside some of the more historic buildings on campus.
Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.