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Active-shooters and Lock Downs

This is the first in a series of posts designed to foster a “culture of compliance” regarding responding to lock-down or active shooter scenarios.

A century ago, fires on campus were a significant worry as students and staff were frequently being seriously injured or killed in those events. As a result, federal, state, county, and local laws and ordinances were developed. These regulations created consistent fire safety practices based on the “3 E’s” of compliance.


  • Doors are required to have a certain fire resistance and will also allow swift ingress/egress as necessary.

  • Buildings have strategically placed fire alarms so anyone on campus can quickly alert others to a potential danger. These alarms also immediately dispatch fire fighters to the scene.


  • Students and staff are made aware of fire dangers and given specific instructions regarding what they should do if they see a potential fire or hear the warning.

  • Routine required fire drills create a reflex response to the potential dangerous situation of a campus fire.


  • Industry experts are required by law to routinely inspect and audit the above systems to assure compliance.

  • These inspections and audits are critical to parents as well as insurance companies.

These “3 E’s” have been incredibly successful related to a “culture of compliance” with fire safety on our campuses, to the point where fire related injuries or deaths are very rare.

Is it possible we can use this same successful fire safety format to eliminate, or at least minimize, avoidable dangers related to lock-downs and active shooter scenarios? We think it is.

Since it does not appear that the federal, state, or even local government will take a stand, the following should be considered by local school boards as policy.


  • Doors

  • All exterior doors should be self-closing, and in the best case, have some sort of alarm set to times of the day the door should not be open or ajar.

  • All interior doors should have locks that can be easily engaged from the inside while equally easily disengaged to allow quick exit.

  • Alarms

  • Schools should have strategically placed alarms that, when activated, sound a consistent alert, warning others of potential danger related to an intruder or unknown person on campus.

  • The alarm should be connected to a system that automatically notifies local law enforcement.


  • Staff should be trained to specific and consistent expectations related to lock-downs and active shooters. Students should get age appropriate training as well. The training must be consistent enough that if a student or teacher transferred schools, the expectations and applications are exactly the same.

  • There should be routine and age appropriate drills conducted at intervals during the school year. One of these drills should be held while students are between classes.


  • Industry experts should be asked to attend training and audit drills in order to assure compliance and stay current with best practices.

  • Insurance companies should require policies and practices be in place.

The above is obviously an abbreviated list offered in an attempt to get the conversation started and begin the process of a “culture of compliance” at your school. In our next post, we will discuss rules regarding visitors on campus as related to engineering and enforcement. Until then..

Be safe,


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