Barricade devices considered to improve school safety

Barricade devices considered to improve school safety

CHARDON, OH (WOIO) - A Chardon company is awaiting a state report expected to be released this week on how school buildings can begin using barricade devices to protect students from intruders.

As more companies sell door-barricade devices to Ohio school districts, Shiffler Equipment Service hopes to supply its own product after researching and gathering input from school and public safety leaders.

According to company reps, the devices have not been marketed for use in school lockdown situations yet, but numerous school districts outside of Ohio have bought them.

Shiffler's "Ultra-Dog" device was created around 20 years ago to lock commercial and warehouse doors. Since then, the company has designed seven different configurations of the nonelectric device, which eliminates chains and padlocks for businesses. Although each configuration varies, the free-standing device essentially bolts itself against doors and their frames or handles. Some configurations require the device to be screwed onto a door, which allows for them to be disabled from the outside by authorities with a specially-designed key locked away in a "knox box." All of the devices use just one action to engage and one to release.

Although state code does not officially ban these devices, questions over their legality began in February when the Ohio Board of Building Standards rejected a Licking County school district's variance request to use another brand of barricade devices in their classrooms. Local authorities are responsible for interpreting the code for enforcement, but many school and fire officials considered the action as a ruling against the legality of barricade devices.

The board's building code and State Fire Marshal code has long prohibited door locks, latches and barricade devices that "require special knowledge or skills" or "requires multiple steps to disengage." Shiffler company reps believe their device meets current codes, but want to wait for the board's report on Friday before marketing their product to schools.

Company reps expect the Ultra-Dog to cost no more than $100 per door and hope the state can step in to help equip school buildings.

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