The possibility of a shooting is a terrifying reality for students, parents, and teachers alike, and each leaves the lasting question of how it could have been averted or at the very least, the damage minimized.
With only eight school fires having killed more than ten people in the last 110 years, it's amazing that schools have been running drills and meeting national standards for fire containment but are slow to adapt to the new and much more likely danger that is a school shooting.
So what can schools do to prepare for that event?
The best answer: door barricades. Read on to find out why every classroom needs one.
It takes law enforcement an average of five minutes to respond to an active shooter. This means that the safety of a school is dependent on inhibiting the shooter as much as possible in those five minutes, most importantly by delaying them until help arrives.
The most logical way to slow the shooter down is to limit their ability to move through the school; thus, a door barricade should be the quickest, easiest, and the most readily available piece of equipment to do so.
In reality, designing a door barricade that meets NFPA codes and standards while also being effective, easy to use, readily available, easy to install, and affordable for the school seems impossible to find.
Besides those reasons, many argue that a door barricade may actually aid an active shooter and/or further endanger the students/staff of the school.
The fear is that these door barricades either give students away (they often are visible from outside the door), that they are hard to use or require special training to properly position/dismantle (keeps students from leaving in the case that they can escape while also allowing the shooter to trap groups of students), or that they keep law enforcement / first responders from being able to enter.
Many of the door lockdown devices already in use do just that, and the ones that might actually work are so expensive schools can't afford them. That forces many schools to put price over safety/functionality, which always ends up further endangering its students.
Revisiting the NFPA codes and standards, many such door barricades are technically illegal because they violate many of these codes and standards, specifically the Code for Means of Egress for Buildings and Structures (NFPA 101B). This code specifically states that when it comes to doors, there should not be more than one [locking mechanism] located in an egress path.
Besides that, the code also generally states that any locks or latches must be able to be operated with ease in one motion and that no other mechanism may keep the occupants of the room from opening or closing the door.
These codes are obviously easily violated by many door barricades or active shooter door stops, leaving yet another reason many barricades won't/can't be used.
Some choose to challenge this code, most prominently in an Ohio law case in which an Ohio school purchased $30,000 of door barricades only to be told they cannot be used. The school argued that this code is faulty in court, but a 4-1 ruling by the building appeals court temporarily put that argument to ground.
However, many are calling for NFPA 101B to be amended and possibly discarded, as noted on the official document.
The issue with the code is that there is yet to be a device that is effective enough to force a code revisitation. Many are faulty in other (previously discussed) areas, and thus, don't give a strong enough argument to challenge the code.
If there was such a device (and we sure think there is), the code would almost certainly be reassessed and almost certainly abandoned in the interest of national safety.
This, again, touches on the fact that in this century, the risk of a mass/deadly shooting is significantly higher statistically than the risk of a fatal fire.
It's worth noting that these NFPA codes that call to sacrifice safety from active shooter for safety from fires are somewhat hypocritical.
One could certainly argue the reverse, that certain fire codes actually put students in more danger of shootings.
As an example, fire alarms. From a security standpoint, they are a hazard as they force large groups of students out to gather in large and densely packed groups. This makes them an easy target for active shooters, which puts students in another kind of danger.
This is roughly the same argument that NFPA uses to criticize door barriers, basically stating that it's okay to endanger students in one way as long as it protects them from another (statistically less likely) danger.
While this point is a bit extreme, it does a lot to prove why we need door barriers and why the current codes preventing them would be inhibiting to any effective product.
With a number of factors going against many door barricades, how is SwiftShield any different from any other ineffective door barrier?
For one, it's easier than any other to install. There is no need for a professional to drill into or alter your doors in any way, just take some measurements and order a fitting product.
It's part of what makes it so great: it's so simple. Anybody - staff, parent, student (even kindergarteners) - could use it easily.
Besides its ease of installation and use, it's simply just effective.
It is invisible from the outside of the door (doesn't give students away), it makes the door impossible to open (even with the assisted use of a firearm or other tool), and it is so easily removable it would not trap students in.
Finally, it's affordable. Thanks to the Shield Our Schools initiative, schools are able to get SwiftShield for free thanks to corporate and personal sponsors.
SwiftShield is the one product that is effective enough for reconsideration of NFPA codes and could be the one thing between an active shooter and a student. Every classroom needs to have one.
Be sure to contact us to learn more about the SwiftShield and how you can use it to keep schools safe.