Developing And Implementing An Emergency Lockdown Plan

Aug. 2, 2012
Lockdowns are more frequently and more legally used to prevent entry without impeding egress, therefore not sacrificing life safety.

Although there are no national lockdown guidelines at this time, lockdowns are finding increased deployment in civilian applications.

Lockdowns which seal exterior doors form entry and egress were on the drawing boards for many government agencies. Government agencies are typically not subject to building codes and AHJs.

I was once asked to design a system which would essentially seal U.S. Embassies, preventing anyone to enter or leave until the Marines said it was okay.

Many times in the past, I’ve had to turn down an anxious merchant who wanted to be able to lock the doors to prevent egress from the showroom with a wireless transmitter. Retailers often desire a lockdown to prevent shoplifters form making off with merchandise.

However, retailers are subject to AHJs, and it is against the law to install a system to entrap individuals, whether they are stealing a baby or a pair of sneakers.

Lockdowns are more frequently and more legally used to prevent entry without impeding egress, therefore not sacrificing life safety.

A lockdown system can also incorporate delayed egress, so entry can be prohibited, but egress can be deterred but still achieved.

LAHJs will consider the nature of the occupancy and particular situation; if the premises is under governmental jurisdiction or if there are security officers present on site as part of the site’s security management will determine what the LAHJ will or won’t consider.

In the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to address lockdown issues for airlines, embassies, schools and retailers. The need for professional security and advanced security technology has never been greater.

We’re not the politicians, we’re the practitioners: our families and clients are counting on us to do our jobs and we hope the Locksmith Ledger serves our readers as a resource in this regard.

Schools and Universities

A growing market is for lockdowns for schools and universities. The public’s awareness of the value of lockdowns is the result of the many well publicized events in high schools and universities, where the consensus of experts is that lives would have been saved were lockdown systems in place.

Lock manufacturers responded quickly with the introduction of classroom function mechanical locksets designed to allow them to be locked to prevent entry from within the protected area.

A few years ago a customer (a state technical training school) asked if we could provide lockdown functionality to their Millennium access control system. Like many other electronic access control systems, this system did not offer that feature, so we designed it for them. However, many manufacturers now offer this functionality, so you do not have to roll your own.

Although there are no national guidelines for university lockdown the most effective emergency lockdown system involves planning which includes:

  • Prevention
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery

Lockdown can apply to system which prevent entry during an alert, or prevent egress to contain a villain. Lockdown can be applied to a single opening, to a building, or to an entire campus.

AlarmLock Networx Lockdown

Alarm Lock’s VP of Sales explains how Trilogy initiates Global lockdown. “In 10 seconds, activate emergency global lockdown/unlock from the Networx PC or any Networx lock activated from any lock, with or without the PC online by any authorized user with global permissions,” says Bob Swoope. (If desired, locks may be selectively programmed to be excluded from emergency global functions, i.e., they will ignore the lock/unlock command.)

“We will be adding a third method later this year in which a remote keyfob will be able to deploy 10 second Emergency Global lockdown. In the DL Windows Software, we add this feature to any user to activate Lockdown from any lock which will lockdown all designated locks within a single system, up to 2,000 locks.”

Using Alarm Lock technology, Global Emergency Features of Lockdown & Unlock (Passage) can be done currently two different ways with a third being developed later this year.

1. From any Networx DL/PDL Series Locks that has been enabled to perform this function and by a user that also has been authorized to issue Emergency Global Commands, simply enter your normal PIN code, or present your normal HID Prox Card followed by a three-digit PIN code to initiate Emergency lockdown.

Note - The system must be setup properly to allow for Emergency Commands from any Networx DL/PDL Series Lock, (See programming manual for system setup.)

2. From the PC running the software and by an authorized user having access to DL Windows Software; from the account screen, click "Wireless Commands," click "Emergency Lock Down" to activate Emergency Lockdown or click "Emergency Passage" to activate Global Unlock or Passage mode.

3. A new third feature will be added in the future allowing an authorized user to initiate Emergency Lock down from a new Remote Keyfob in development.  The time line is within the next 6 - 12 months and will be backward compatible to all existing and installed Networx locks with a simple and FREE Firmware upgrade and flashing the locks.

Note - You can "Return to Normal" or reset the Networx locks from the PC or any Networx DL/PDL Series locks.”

With Trilogy Wireless Networx, locks seamlessly integrate in an existing Alarm Lock Trilogy standalone door access system and share the same single DL-WINDOWS database (requires v4.0.1 or higher). Existing Trilogy users can easily add one wireless Networx Lock, or as many as two thousand, to an existing system seamlessly with no downtime. Features include:

• Secure 128bit AES PC encryption and proprietary RF-link lock-to-Gateway communication encryption protects the system from interference or tampering (WEP or WPA compatible with wireless modem).

• Remote System Management: VPN-connection /remote capability for accessing the Networx System and controlling up to all 2000 locks per account. (No special modems required.)

• Wireless locks are fully keypad programmable and can be up used before their wireless network is configured. This reduces pressure for IT departments to coordinate with physical security departments or locksmiths.

Alarm Lock DL-WINDOWS software is free (no license) and doesn’t require a dedicated computer or server, or a special or dedicated computer network.

The maximum Trilogy Networx system can comprise up to 50 gateways for the networking of up to 2000 locks or access controlled doors per account.

DL Windows Software Training Videos are available online at


Schlage is another manufacturer who has met the challenge with Lockdown  technologies designed to save lives.Drew Alexander, product manager for Schlage Electronics, answered Ledger’s questions about lockdown features and the Schlage AD-Series.

Which IR products support lockdown (software, standalones)?

Lockdown function is applicable with our online or what I suppose you are calling a “software” solution.

What model(s) mechanical locks (classroom locks, exit devices, etc.) support the ability to lockdown from within the protected area? 

AD400 and AD300 support this feature.  Certain functions of our mechanical also support the lockdown (but it is not via a panic button) such as the Classroom Security lock in the Schlage mechanical locks.

What delays apply to hard-wired as well as wireless?

It is a configurable heartbeat which communicates with the panel. The configurable heartbeat has to do with wireless technology. Hardwired is immediate.

Are there instances where a premises may not use 'card reader' access control on perimeter doors but might implement electrically controlled trim for a lockdown system? 

If this is a perimeter door – and it is a means of egress – then the application usually calls for a panic device.  It is extremely hard to get a variance from the AHJ in this application (hard to get a lockdown requirement).  With the AD locks, you can always get out --by design. I can’t think of an application using an E996L trim, or using either an electrified mortise or ND without a card reader

Are there instances where electromagnetic locks are used and energized for lockdown?

Yes – in asylums or jails I have seen this requirement.  There is also the “Hugs” of “Safe Place” system in birthing wings of hospitals where the newborn wears an ankle bracelet and when it approaches the opening, the doors lock down.  I have also seen a Chexit (delayed egress) device “armed” when a patient at a hospital or resident of an old folk’s home nears the opening when wearing a bracelet.

How are lockdown systems addressed in the building codes?

By rule you can’t stop egress, but every AHJ has the authority to give a variance based on the application.

Read our sidebar, Key Elements of A Lockdown Plan, supplied by IR. It sets the tone for what is needed.

Secondly, lockdowns have everything to do with the wireless technology being deployed.  This issue is major with wireless access control. Usually, with WiFi, access control decisions are downloaded by the host into the lock 5-6 times per day versus 5-6 times per hour with 900 MHz solutions, a 10-minute heartbeat.

Access control decisions may also be managed within the locks (as is the case with offline locks) to minimize communication from the lock to the host and conserve batteries.  However, such limited (non-online) connectivity with the host limits the locks’ ability to receive urgent commands from the host. For instance, even with a 900 MHz platform, a direction to immediately lock down could be ignored for 10-plus minutes.

However, with new modular locks (AD-Series), a “wake up on radio” feature works in parallel with the 10-minute heartbeat.  Without waking up the entire lock, it listens for complementary commands every one to ten seconds and responds.  Thus, ten seconds is the longest it will take to initiate lockdown.

E-Plex® Wireless Lockdown

Because emergency response plans being a top priority for many, Kaba Access Control has incorporated multiple lockdown options in its E-Plex® Wireless Access Control System.

From the Dashboard, users can centrally manage lock commands such as remote unlock, passage, and emergency lockdown. The system’s lockdown choices suit virtually any site and include global, door group, or single door lockdown. In addition, lockdown can be executed right at a door, providing instantaneous and convenient security.

According to Rick Shuford, CRL and Kaba’s product trainer, “We designed the E-Plex Wireless System with emergency commands to help organizations deal with readiness and response in the event of a threat or crisis. Kaba’s System Lockdown provides security directors, facility managers, and staff the flexibility to address immediate needs when they occur on campus.”

In addition, the E-Plex Wireless System requires no wires, conduit runs, access panels, or trenching/drilling. Entire properties, including remote buildings, can be joined to the E-Plex Wireless System without installation hassles and extensive costs.

Features include:

  • Real-time functionality of events and alarms
  • Eliminates visiting doors to update information
  • Centralized access control management
  • Ability to manage both wireless and stand-alone locks
  • Emergency global lockdown or passage of locks
  • Manage up to 100 wireless locks without a network interface
  • Compatible with existing Wi-Fi network using optional adapter
  • Proven wireless technology
  • Mesh network for redundancy
  • Portability allows locks to be easily moved

System Specifications:

  • Uses ZigBee  technology, 2.4 GHz low-power digital radio frequencies
  • Communicates to server by either direct connection (USB) or Ethernet cable (network)
  • Powered by USB, Power over Ethernet (PoE), or 120vAC adapter
  • Network size is 10,000 access points (maximum)
  • Security : 128 bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) plus application layer security
  • Range is 700' line of sight, 200' typical