Leaders at seven physical security organizations dedicated to school security and fire safety sent a joint letter to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Inspector General of Virginia raising concerns about conflicts of interest potentially influencing the recommendations of a recent DHCD study group convened to examine active shooter threats in public buildings.

The Virginia legislature directed the Active Shooter and Hostile Threats in Public Buildings Study Group to examine the use of emergency supplemental hardware (ESH) in public buildings.

The use of ESH, a form of aftermarket hardware designed to prevent intruders from entering a room in the event of an emergency, has raised concerns among physical security professionals due to its potential incompatibility with accessibility and fire safety codes.

The coalition’s letter objects to DHCD’s decision to allow a private manufacturer of ESH to serve as a voting member of the study group, which issued a proposal on March 29 recommending that Virginia amend its building and fire safety codes to eliminate many existing safety restrictions on the use of ESH.

“We are very concerned by DHCD’s decision to allow a private manufacturer of ESH to serve as a voting member of a study group that was specifically formed to examine the safety applications of that same company’s chief product line,” said Cedric Calhoun, Chief Executive Officer of the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI). “The fact that the study group moved forward in proposing a change to the building code that was also opposed by an overwhelming majority of study group participants is also troubling.”

The letter asks the Director of the DHCD and the Inspector General to review the recommendations of the study group in light of these concerns to ensure that its proposals are in line with the public interest.

The following organizations signed the letter:

  • ASIS International – Physical Security Community
  • Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association
  • Door and Hardware Institute
  • Door Security and Safety Foundation
  • National Association of State Fire Marshals
  • National Systems Contractors Association
  • Partner Alliance for Safer Schools