Since that launch, we’ve received hundreds of questions about PASS, security recommendations, and school safety. Good questions are coming in from integrators, school administrators, and manufacturers, so NSCA’s Codes & Compliance Committee got together to document the responses to the most common questions. Now you can have the answers to these questions, too!
Q: What’s the best policy for allowing (or not allowing) parents who have a concealed carry permit but aren’t sworn officers into a school – a marked gun-free zone – with a firearm?
A: While this topic isn’t within the scope of PASS, all public schools must follow individual state law. That will govern your policy.
Q: Our teachers won’t keep classroom doors shut and locked during class periods. Is keeping them open but locked okay?
A: NFPA 101: Life Safety Code states that any door within a fire/smoke partition must be rated for the partition and must positively close. A classroom door is within a fire/smoke partition if the door is rated as a fire/smoke door (the door will have a metal tag on the hinge side of the door providing the door’s fire/smoke rating) and has a mechanical closer installed.
If this is the case, then Life Safety Code requires that the door freely close. At no time is the door allowed to be “propped” open.
If the classroom door isn’t part of a fire/smoke partition, then NFPA 730: Guide for Premises Security suggests that the door remain locked at all times.
Q: Which agencies or school accreditation bodies acknowledge PASS School Safety and Security Guidelines as an approved crisis management plan?
A: See the complete list in the PASS School Safety and Security Guidelines, which can be found here.
Q: Is window film necessary if wire mesh is embedded in the glass?
A: NFPA 730: Guide for Premises Security recommends either wire mesh embedded into the glass or bullet-resistant film or all exterior windows, exterior doors with glass, and exterior sidelights.
NFPA 730 does not provide recommendations for interior doors, interior windows, or interior sidelights.
Q: How do we know what our city’s code requirements are?
A: Federal law dictates that each state is responsible for the code requirements of a state and/or municipality/city. Some states have a state code that each municipality/city must adhere to.
In addition, each municipality/city may have supplementary requirements. Some states (i.e. Missouri) have a state code for state buildings, but allow each municipality/city to decide which codes are valid within that municipality/city.
While this may seem confusing, a school district should conduct an online search of municipality/city codes. From there, the district will quickly discover whether the municipality/city has a unique code or whether the municipality/city is under the requirements of a state code.
Online resources such as www.municode.com have up-to-date lists of all municipality/city codes.
Q: Can integrators provide exact camera placement and help their customers understand privacy laws?
A: Yes! Integrators that are also PASS partners understand the privacy laws and codes that govern permissible camera fields of view.
Q: Our emergency evacuation is tied into the fire alarm system. To initiate a lockdown, we use the fire panel in the entry vestibule. What should we do?
A: According to NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, Chapter 24, an emergency voice communication system must have, at minimum, two locations from which emergency commands are sent.
This means that a school should have a secondary location allowing for emergency commands, such as active shooter, weather emergency, live voice announcements, and other threats to building occupants.
The fire panel is the primary source to initiate an emergency command; however, code dictates that a secondary source is required. If this is not the case in your school, it is recommended that you work with the fire marshal to ensure that the fire alarm/emergency communication system is up to code.
Q: Door-lock magnetic strips seem to work and meet code. Why don’t we acknowledge them as a low-cost solution?
A: NFPA 101 states that any door within a fire/smoke partition must be rated for the partition and must positively close. A classroom door is within a fire/smoke partition if the door is rated as a fire/smoke door (the door will have a metal tag on the hinge side of the door providing the door’s fire/smoke rating) and has a mechanical closer installed.
If this is the case, then Life Safety Code requires that the door freely close. At no time is the door allowed to be “propped” open. This includes a magnetic strip that restricts the door from latching.
In the event of a fire, air movement is a key component to the restriction or conflagration of a fire. A magnetic strip that restricts the door from latching allows the door to open due to the difference in temperature between the spaces in which the door penetrates.
A fire will seek the path of least resistance, which, scientifically, is moving from an area with high temperature to an area with low temperature. The effect of a high-temperature area combined with a low-temperature area creates a suction effect between the two areas. If the door between the two areas is not latched, this effect will open the door, allowing the fire to promulgate from one area to another.
If the door using the magnetic strip isn’t part of a fire/smoke partition, then the code does not have any requirements.
Q: What does PASS recommend when a building key is misplaced?
A: Patented key loss is a major issue facing all schools and can result in significant cost.
Each occurrence must be reported immediately; a loss investigation must take place. Treat this as lost or stolen property with the same sense of urgency. If the key is a master or outside building key, begin the process of rekeying the school or look to this as an opportunity to replace traditional locksets and keys with an electronic solution.
Have other questions that you don’t see listed here? Let us know!