Classroom Barricade Devices

Jan 18 / Dan Keller

Classroom after-market barricade devices have, in some cases, been offered to schools based upon the conception that barricading the door is an effective way to protect students and teachers in the classroom.

By definition, “barricade” means to block (something) so people cannot enter or leave.  Most life safety-codes, however, require doors to serve as a means of egress at all times.


National Fire Protection Association Code 101 (NFPA 101) is a life safety code that addresses minimum life safety exiting requirements for occupants in case of fire or other emergencies.


NFPA 101 requires doors to be readily opened from the classroom side.  After-market locking devices and barricade not only violate this requirement but may prevent first responders from quickly entering a classroom.


NFPA 101 also states:

       Only approved exit hardware should be used on emergency exit doors

       All locks or latches on egress (exit) doors must operate with a single motion

       No special knowledge should be needed to disengage a latch

       Any hardware attached to a fire door must be a UL-listed device

       Classroom door levers must always open from the inside without a key


*Many of the after-market barricading devices violate one or more of these requirements.


Why Schools Should Avoid Classroom Barricade Devices


       Willful misuse of the devices can prevent both escape from inside the room and emergency response from the outside.

       Most of these devices violate life safety code NFPA 101 requirements which ensure that all occupants – regardless of ages and physical ability – can exit easily and without obstruction.

       Classroom security function locks already provide effective lockdown capability – a secondary locking device is unnecessary.

       Use of barricade devices, noncompliant with minimum life safety exiting requirements may subject school districts and communities to unwanted liability exposure.

       Barricade or secondary locking devices can increase liability exposure (NFPA 101) and risk and most violate fire and life safety codes.


Classroom Security Locks


Classroom security locks in the K-12 setting should meet the following criteria:

  1. The door should be lockable from the egress side of the classroom without requirement the door to be opened.
  2. Egress from inside the classroom should occur with a single releasing motion without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge, or effort.
  3. The classroom door should be lockable and unlockable from outside the classroom with either a mechanical key or electronic device.
  4. Ideally, the classroom security lock should have a visual indicator to occupants of locked or unlocked condition.

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