The NSCA Codes & Compliance Committee provides a forum for members to ask questions and find answers to the issues they’re most concerned about in regard to compliance.
Ask our committee a question and the most appropriate subject-matter expert will provide you with direction or advice. We may point you to other resources on NSCA’s website or to the leading authorities on the topic as well.
Our goal is to provide direction and best practices while respecting the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). The general advice we provide may still require you to check local ordinances, codes, or permitting regulations.
School Safety (8)
Yes! Integrators that are also PASS partners understand the privacy laws and codes that govern permissible camera fields of view.
Door-lock magnetic strips seem to work and meet code. Why don’t we acknowledge them as a low-cost solution?
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.
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.
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?
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.
Our teachers won’t keep classroom doors shut and locked during class periods. Is keeping them open but locked okay?
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.
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.
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?
While this topic isn’t within the scope of PASS, all public schools must follow individual state law. That will govern your policy.
Which agencies or school accreditation bodies acknowledge PASS School Safety and Security Guidelines as an approved crisis management plan?
See the complete list in the PASS School Safety and Security Guidelines, which can be found here.