"Rethinking Fire and Life Safety Codes as They Relate to an Active Shooter Event”
With regard to Fire and Life Safety Codes, this is a state/local issue vis a vis Fire Marshall approval. International Fire Code 104.9, Alternative materials and methods, states, “The fire code official is authorized to approve an alternative material or method of construction where the fire code official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this code in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.
International Fire Code 104.8, Modifications, goes on to state, “Whenever there are practical difficulties involved in carrying out the provisions of this code, the fire code official shall have the authority to grant modifications for individual cases, provided the fire code official shall first find that special individual reason makes the strict letter of this code impractical and the modification is in compliance with the intent and purpose of this code and that such modification does not lessen health, life and fire safety requirements.
THIS IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE: There are approximately 98,000 public schools in the United States (putting the total number of public and private schools well over 100,000). According to the NFPA, Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 4,000 school fires with ZERO fatalities. Since 1990, there have been 194 school shootings in the United States with a total of 290 fatalities and 366 injured. In fact, since the shooting in Newtown, CT, there have been 70 more school shootings in the United States!
It is our position that the possibility of implementing a device which is only engaged at the onset of a lockdown/active shooter event supersedes any perceived threat of fire safety due to hindered egress. The important thing to remember and emphasize with your local Fire Marshall is the change of emergency. A lockdown/active shooter present is the emergency. As such, precautions must be taken to protect the students and staff IN PLACE. The fire codes are exit-related and suppression-related tools. These codes do not help as related to lockdown or shooter-present situations. A device that denies entry to an unwanted individual but allows an authorized user entry after the lockdown/active shooter emergency seems a logical compromise.
Schools, public and private, have many layers of fire protection. Sprinkler protection, rated walls and doors, alarm systems, and fire extinguishers along with periodic fire drills make a very safe environment for our children. A device used only in the lockdown / active shooter emergency, such as the RhinoWare™ Door Barricade, can provide an additional level of critical protection for our children as well as school faculty and staff.