Update: 1010.1.11 Classroom Door Hardware

On August 17, DFPC’s General Board of Appeals (Board) met to hear an appeal from the Douglas County School District (District). The hearing had originally been scheduled for August 4, but was postponed due to a lack of quorum.

The Appeal concerned Section 1010.1.11 of the Division’s adopted 2015 International Building Code (IBC) (as amended):

1010.1.11 Classroom Door Hardware. In classrooms within group E occupancieshardware shall include a means to manually lock egress doors from inside the classroom. Such means shall not prevent these doors from being readily openable from the egress side without a key, special knowledge or effort.

Exceptions:

  1. Egress door assemblies which operate in compliance with NFPA 80 within classrooms of group E occupancies shall not be required to include a manual locking means….

The IBC amendments were implemented in order to allow schools to safely initiate lockdowns while still maintaining fire safety. Previously, schools had been using refrigerator-type magnets to quickly lock classroom doors in a manner which prevented them from latching in the event of a fire, potentially causing fires to spread throughout a school building.

The District proposed replacing existing, noncompliant door hardware with storeroom function locksets. Rather than being manually lockable from inside the classroom, as prescriptively required by the amended Code, these locksets are always locked. The District argued that this is safer since no action is necessary for a teacher to initiate lockdown. They also argued that storeroom function locksets are compliant with NFPA 80 and therefore comply with exception 1.

The Division denied the District’s proposal. First, it was believed that “always locked” is not the same as being “lockable”. It was noted that storeroom function locksets operate similar to the manner in which current classroom function locksets were being operated. Since magnets are being used with classroom function locksets, it was assumed that they would continue to be used with the similar functioning storeroom function locksets.

Second, while the Division stipulates that storeroom function locksets comply with NFPA 80, it must also be recognized that existing classroom locksets also comply with the standard. Because magnets and similar devices are being used with these locksets, they are not operating in compliance with the standard.

At the hearing, both the District and the Division made their cases. After a lengthy discussion, and subsequent to many questions of the speakers, THE Board moved to “AFFIRM DFPC DENIAL OF STOREROOM FUNCTION LOCKSETS ON CLASSROOM DOORS”. The motion carried by a 7-0 margin. Key to the Board’s decision was the belief that storeroom function locksets would promote the use of devices (such as magnets) undermining fire safety features and that there are other options available, at comparable cost, which would negate the need for such devices.

The General Board of Appeals is established by statute and includes representatives from Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council (CCICC), Fire Marshals’ Association of Colorado (FMAC), Colorado State Fire Chiefs’ Association (CSFCA), Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI), and Rocky Mountain Chapter for Education Facilities Planners International (CEFPI). The Fire & Life Safety Section Chief also serves as an ex officio member.