The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate have passed a bill allowing the installation of temporary door locking devices in the state's schools. Although House Bill 5701 aims to "act to promote the safety, welfare and educational interests" of Michigan school communities, some security leaders have identified safety risks of the door barricade technology allowed by the bill.
The bill has been passed despite letters of opposition from the Security Industry Association (SIA), the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS), and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM).
Security threats of door locking devices
The door barricade systems that HB 5701 would legalize present multiple security risks to K-12 school communities, according to Drake Jamali, SIA Manager of Government Relations.
"The willful misuse of such devices by a perpetrator could both prevent escape and intervention from the outside during an emergency. Additionally, these devices do not meet fire code requirements related to egress and violate the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)," said Jamali.
"Lastly, currently available classroom security locks provide the necessary lockdown capability many schools require during an active shooter threat without presenting the safety and security risks outlined above." The final Sandy Hook Advisory Commission report stated that a locked classroom door has never been breached during an active shooter event.
Door barricades violate federal safety codes
In addition to the potential of temporary door locking devices exacerbating an active shooter incident, the technology also presents fire safety concerns.
"Most of the devices that would be allowed if this legislation becomes law do not meet modern fire code requirements that are in place to protect occupants and provide free egress from the room," according to NASFM. A number of devices allowed by HB 5701 also do not meet ADA requirements.
"We need our code officials and certified security consultants involved in life safety decisions, and the advice of industry experts should be part of the final bill," said Michael Garcia, End User Manager K-12 at HID Global.
"We can point to instances of barricades being used to inflict maximum casualties and hinder the ability of emergency responders to render care. Codes, standards and regulations have been developed by professionals specialized in this area, which should be included as part of the decision."
This article was updated on March 18th, 2022.