[Update: The bill was amended to remove the ADA concern for the bill, but it still has a major life safety concern as stated below]
In 2011, during my first session as a new legislator, I heard the phrase, Dead kids make bad laws. I asked for more information and found that legislators, wanting to protect kids, have sometimes over reacted when a child dies in creating new laws. The goal was good, but they didn't take take to look at the different ramifications of the proposed law. In some cases it has taken years to undo the damage of the bad rushed bill.
Yesterday I became aware of a new such bill.
S.B. 87 School Security Locks
What does the bill do?
This bill: amends the International Building Code and International Fire Code regarding: hardware height on a door for certain occupancies in lockdown or during a lockdown drill; and door operations provisions for locks and bolt locks, and latching and unlatching, for certain occupancies in lockdown or during a lockdown drill.
But there are dead kids, so the bill has to pass to make parents feel safer.
If the bill were to pass, is there a simple amendment that would save lives?
Lines 48 and 102. Change the words "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines.
What will that do?
It will allow children to get out of a classroom faster during an emergency and could save lives.
Won't that gut the bill?
No, there are already countless existing building code approved "barricade classroom function" locks on the market and many of the existing classroom looks can be field modified to allow the door to be locked from the inside of the room and not just the outside.
There is only one lock manufacturer that makes an aftermarket barricade classroom lock that can be opened from the outside with a special key that is the target of the bill. If the bill is amended, that lock won't be installed in schools, but other building code approved locks can be installed.
Won't that cost the school district more money? Not necessarily. The more expensive "Mortise" type locks, can be field modified saving money, providing the security and safety. The less expensive "Cylinder" type locks can be replaced with less expensive locks that allow the door to be locked from either the inside or the outside with a key, but allow the children on the inside to get out without a key or slowing them down.
Is there any other problems with the bill? Yes
for decades, the US Department of Justice has determined that the combination of the current International Building Code and the Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities ICC A117.1 is equivalent to the building design requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAG) without dragging the architect into a civil rights law for liability.
As currently written, I believe SB 87 violates both ICC A117.1 and ADAAG and would NOT allow someone in a wheelchair to lock the door, but more importantly unlock the door to get out of the classroom.
Are you saying that in your opinion that SB 87 as currently drafted violates ADA and could open architects, district and the state to lawsuits re: ADA? Yes
So is the bill as originally drafted worse that than passing nothing? Yes
Is any related bill needed? Good question.
Any classroom I have ever seen has a lock on it that can be secured to protect the occupants, but the traditional "Classroom Function" lock requires a key to be used to lock the door from the outside (protects the teacher from being locked out and protects students from being dragged into a classroom and locked in and harmed. That isn't bad, but in the new age of shootings, it doesn't allow the door to be locked from the inside. The door always opens from the inside without a key in one operation.
The newer building code complaint "barricade classroom function" locks are the same as the old ones, but also allow someone on the inside to lock the door with a key. In a shooting situation, this is quicker and safer, but still allows someone on the inside (including in a wheelchair) to open the door with one operation and no key.
IF the Utah legislature wants to require certain new school classrooms to have the barricade classroom function locks, the ones that meet current code and allow only one operation to get out of the room and requires no key to get out of the room, they could substitute or amend the bill to require that.
Should the current bill pass? No
Can it be amended? Lines 48 and 102. Change the words "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines.
Is there a better option? Yes, debate whether or not it is good policy to require certain new classrooms to have the newer code complient locks that allow locking from both sides of the door.
What about the State Fire Marshall's office? If you go to the Governor's office, you limit what the state fire marshall's office can say and do, and they can not create policy. I personally met yesterday with the person in the office that gave the sponsor the language to change the building code. If Lines 48 and 102 were changed from "two operations" to "one operation" on both lines., he would not be personally opposed to the bill.
Disclaimer. I am an architect who has be using the building codes and has been designing to meet ADA and ICC A117 for decades.