School Security: Doors Locks and Beyond

April 3, 2017
Much more is involved than locking a classroom door. For best security management, set up a broad perimeter and use multiple elements to plan to safeguard the building occupants.

School security continues to be one of more important markets for locksmiths. A growing number of manufacturers and agencies are getting involved, all of whom should already be familiar to anyone who has been involved in commercial locksmithing for any length of time.

Schools have always been a focal point of security concerns since we all share in the concern for our children’s safety, but r a stream of shootings in K-12 and universities has triggered the introduction of new products, and the introduction of theories, codes and best practices for the schools and security providers to remain mindful of.

Emphasis of technologies and techniques reflect the product offerings and specialties of manufacturer and providers, but an overview reveals that there is a consensus among all of them and approaches and policies that are best adhered to.

With a multi-tiered/ multi-technology approach, risks associated with each area within the premises must be mapped, so appropriate levels of protection can be deployed; and solution will involve more than a single technology.

The tradeoff of safety vs security has to meet building code and products cannot be chosen on the basis of low price or effective sales presentation.

Altering door hardware may affect the performance and listings for the opening, creating an unacceptable situation. Lives might be in danger, and you and your company might be liable.

Retrofit Accessories

There have been numerous retrofit accessories offered which diminish the life safety characteristics of the opening. Accessories that might impede forced entry into a classroom often result in an opening which cannot be used by emergency responders (or anyone else) to gain access to the classroom until the appliance has been removed from the inside of the door. Additionally these devices usually prevent the door from being used as an emergency exit while they are engaged. Most of these devices are not code compliant.

Many arguments for these devices seem palatable to frantic parents and school administrators while the headlines are displaying wall to wall reports of death and carnage.

“Anything has to be better than nothing.”

“The devices will only be used under dire circumstances, and then quickly removed again.”

“Ehat are we supposed to tell the parents of innocent victims?”

Be sure all parties concerned, including yourself, understand the code and liability consequences before selling and deploying non-code appliances.

Lori Greene, Allegion’s building hardware and building code Guru, and frequent contributor to The Locksmith Ledger, has this to say about barricade devices:

“In case you haven’t been following the classroom barricade device issue closely, here’s an update. Within the last few years, products have begun to appear on the market which were advertised as a secure way to lock a classroom door during a school shooting.  With school districts pressured to find a way to address their security needs quickly and within already-strained budgets, some districts considered retrofit security devices that were less expensive and easier to procure than new locksets.  In some cases, locksets were already in place, but classroom barricade devices were touted as a way to provide additional security, address glazing adjacent to door hardware, or rectify a lack of established lockdown procedures or key distribution.

“When installed on a door with existing latching hardware, most classroom barricade devices do not meet the model code requirements.  The model codes that have been adopted in most U.S. states include the International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code.  These codes currently require one operation to release the latch(es) on a door in a means of egress, with no tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist, and no key, tool, special knowledge, or effort.  For fire door assemblies, all components must be listed for use on a fire door.

“In an attempt to create a safe, consistent set of code requirements for school security, the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) Codes and Government Affairs Committee proposed a change to the IBC.  After moving through the code development process, with input from the International Code Council and numerous other stakeholders, the change was approved. Similar language was later approved for the IFC, and a corresponding change is currently in progress for NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code.”

For complete information on this topic, visit

ASSA ABLOY Site Assessment App

The school locksmith may be called upon to offer solutions, and there is a concern that they will be requested to, or tempted to offer one of the new products currently on the market or employ a technique which does not comply with building codes or fire and life safety codes.  Locksmith Ledger asked Ron Baer, ASSA ABLOY Director of Business Development, K-12, for tips on handling such a situation.

“Pressure from parents and the general public spikes after media reports (and/or misreports) on K-12 crime incidents. This pressure sometimes forces reactionary decisions, which result in unintended consequences.  Jamming a door shut with a wedge-type device may appear to solve the Active Assailant Threat, but in fact exponentially increases the risks and liabilities related to assault and fire.  Proper application-appropriate solutions are available, and warrant careful consideration,” Baer said.

“Nearly all school districts have a Safety Committee responsible for designing varied and complex threat response strategies.  These may be formal or informal, but consistently involve people representing multiple professions.  Any classroom door hardware decisions should be thoroughly evaluated by this multi-discipline committee as part of the school’s Threat Management Strategy. The best solutions include: property perimeter controls, consolidated visitor vestibules, exterior building opening controls, and interior opening controls.  Each of these requires an application-appropriate solution that contributes effectively and efficiently to a school’s overall Threat Management Strategy,” he added

K-12 Schools can review their doorway security with the site assessment iPad app from ASSA ABLOY. The app is now available for free download on iTunes:

The ASSA ABLOY School Security Solutions assessment tool guides the user through a detailed site survey that catalogues every door opening and captures specific school security requirements and campus details.  The app conducts a detailed analysis based on the functionality of each opening type, including classroom, main entrance, office, assembly area and more.

“The ASSA ABLOY K-12 security assessment app is a great tool for schools that want to gauge the level of protection offered by their doorways,” said Doug Titus, K-12 Business Director for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions. “School officials can conduct a walkthrough on their own or call their local ASSA ABLOY K-12 Security Specialist to guide them through a site assessment survey.”

Other app features include:

  • Uploading and report generation to create a detailed assessment report based on the inputted information
  • Solutions section-find a door, frame and locking product that addresses the safety and security needs for any opening
  • Link to Professional Support-find a local ASSA ABLOY school security expert to answer any doorway related question or provide assistance with your assessment

For more information about school safety and security services from ASSA ABLOY, visit .

Allegion Lockdown Strategies

Lockdown is the foundation of a school security plan. Access control is the way a school manages credentials and the access and egress of staff, students and visitors on a daily basis. It’s the most critical aspect of any school safety strategy.

In the event of an emergency though, access control is not enough. Your security plan requires a lockdown strategy to manage the comings and goings of each opening on demand, in the moment, as soon as an emergency arises.

A lockdown strategy should be based on two critical aspects:

Security Zones: Every facility can be broken down into unique security zones.  Within each zone are openings that have unique requirements relative to other openings in the building and in emergency situations.

People and Protocols: A school’s ability to activate lockdown relies on the people and protocols you have in place. Protocol must be clearly established and regularly practiced. Likewise, whichever solution you have, you need trained people who can properly execute it in the event of an emergency.

The importance of lockdown cannot be overstated. It directly impacts a school’s ability to safeguard students, staff and visitors within its walls.

Manual lockdown

  • Keys manually lock down a room or space
  • Relies upon an individual having the right key in hand and being at the right opening during a lockdown situation
  • Speed of lockdown dependent on how fast staff member can get to door and lock it
  • Requires the highest level of staff accountability
  • Most economical of lockdown solutions

Centralized lockdown

  • Schlage AD Series can enable campus wide lockdown in seconds
  • Centralized lockdown is initiated by an authorized individual
  • Simultaneous lockdown across a building or campus can occur when a specific combination of access control software and hardware are in place

Remote lockdown

  • Standalone electronic solution providing instant local lockdown
  • Lockdown activated by remote fob within proximity of door
  • Requires an individual with an authorized fob to put the door into lockdown mode
  • Most economical electronic solution

Allegion recommends that locksmiths and their customers select the credential key, card or other technology) that best meets their unique building, protocols and budget. Options include patented keys, fobs, proximity or magnetic cards, and smart cards.

The Schlage® LE Series wireless mortise lock with ENGAGE™ technology is designed to affordably extend electronic access control deeper into the building beyond traditional perimeter and high security openings. The LE Series is ideal for commercial real estate, K-12, higher education, assisted living, medical offices, or multi-family applications

SAVI from Napco

Napco Security Technologies and its family of security-dedicated companies has developed a FREE tool and training for security professionals to help educators determine what security measures are needed to secure their schools from unwanted intruders. 

Napco’s  SAVI, the School Access-Control Vulnerability Index, was created utilizing input from dozens of security experts in numerous fields/disciplines. SAVI is a dynamic electronic form a security professional fills out for his/her prospective customers to help assess their current security level, and subsequently shows them what steps they can incrementally take to add more meaningful security measures, calculating the respective values for each. Napco is offering professional training and certification on the SAVI system in the field and online to help security professionals connect with eager K-12 schools and university end users.

Without bias toward any particular security solutions or products, Napco and its three other security-focused divisions, Alarm Lock, Continental Access and Marks, have objectively quantified what is needed from the multiple security technologies available, to help evaluate and thus better protect a school, university or campus from an attack by an intruder or active shooter.

The security professional simply surveys what kinds of security a school currently has in place, and SAVI, a brief electronic checklist-type form, automatically calculates a score for that school now, to provide insight for the future improvement. The security professional uses SAVI to create a plan of actionable next-steps to suggest and deploy, to increase the school’s security and SAVI score, ranging widely from adding better gates, to classroom intruder locksets to standalone digital access locks with lockdown keyfobs, or a real-time integrated access system with visitor management and video, etc.

For more on SAVI professional certification training in the field or online contact NAPCO Security Technologies 1-800-645-9445 or email [email protected].  And, for more on the Company’s school lockdown product offerings, visit

Napco’s Multi-Tiered Lockdown Solutions

  • Marks Locdown Classroom Intruder Locksets: Allow the teacher to remain inside the classroom to lock down the door. Marks lock
  • Alarm Lock: Classroom Trilogy keypad or prox and keyboard with button on inside, Networx controlling  up to 2000 locks
  • Continental Instruments: Enterprise grade security management and control

At the first sign of trouble outside; lock down a classroom instantly with Marks USA’s LocDown™ Classroom Intruder Locksets. Classroom function cylindrical (F110 function) and mortise (LA318GJ) locksets are designed to be locked or unlocked from the exterior with the interior always in an open position, but allows in emergency life safety situations the teacher to secure the classroom without stepping into the hallway to lock the outside handle. Faculty & students remain safely within the classroom. There is no need to open the door; the exterior lever is disabled by operating the interior lock cylinder.

Typical Classroom function locksets are designed to be locked or unlocked from the exterior, with the interior always in an open position. The LocDown™ Classroom Intruder Locksets by MARKS USA, are designed to be locked or unlocked from the exterior, always open on the interior, but allows in emergency life safety situations, the teacher to secure the classroom without stepping into the hallway to lock the outside handle.

LA318GJ FUNCTION SPECIFICATION: Latch by lever either side except when outside lever is locked from inside or outside by key. When locked, an exterior key will retract the latchbolt. Outside key locks or unlocks exterior lever. Inside key is single acting in one direction and will lock exterior lever only; will not unlock exterior lever. Auxiliary latch deadlocks latch. Inside always free for egress.

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Schools, businesses and public places require a new kind of response to security.  In a live shooter or violent incident, it’s critical to be able to quickly create safe spaces within the interior of a building: classrooms, offices, assembly areas, multi-purpose rooms, corridors. Best SHELTER from Stanly Security allows administration to respond rapidly to safeguard students, employees, customers and visitors. BEST SHELTER is a unique combination of code-compliant mechanical hardware and proven technologies that can be configured to adapt to your building and security protocol. SHELTER has the ability to connect to an alarm panel to notify first responders and lock down a single door, a set of doors or an entire building of doors.

Features include:

  • Vandal Resistant Lever: Lost motion design allows lever to move 55°-60° without engaging retractor assembly
  • Quick Rekeying: Interchangeable core ensures quick, easy rekeying and masterkey compatibility
  • Lever Sag-Resistant: Strong retractor springs resist sagging
  • Visual Lockdown Indicator: Interior light shows lockdown status
  • Attack-Resistant Design: Slotted key release cam and locking lug assembly allow key access even if lock is damaged, and ensure lever is functional from the inside of the door
  • Increased Security: Door locks quickly and securely using a fob without needing to access the front of the device
  • Durability: 9K base chassis tested to over 4 million cycles, which exceeds the ANSI standard for Grade 1 cylindrical locks and exceeds Grade 1 abusive locked lever torque
  • Easy Installation: Pre-assembled hub design greatly reduces the complexity and time required for installation

Note that BEST and other Stanley mechanical security lines have now been acquired by the dormakaba Group. More Information: