At the LockOut Company, we specialize in building lockdown safety for buildings and facilities of all kinds. We like to think that through working with specialty lockdown training organizations, police and special law enforcement units, school and other administrative staff, and through our own experience designing and building both The Boot and The SmartBoot System, that we have gained enough knowledge to properly direct our customers in the best direction for their building and facility lockdown and door barricade needs.
We also know that we don’t know everything, so it’s important to ask questions, which is why we’ve put together three simple, yet important questions that we feel anyone currently deciding if a lockdown system is right for them should ask themselves, and potentially ask their providers as well. We’ve thrown a fourth, and very important question in at the end, one we are asked all the time, for good measure.
These questions are not exactly a starting point, nor are they the end-all-be-all of lockdown questions, but with so many companies working to develop products to secure buildings and facilities through secondary door barricade devices and smart lockdown systems, they are good questions to ask yourself so you don’t end up putting in a system that you may have to simply remove later.
Question 1: Does This System Meet All Fire and Building Code Requirements?
This is a major question to ask yourself, and your system provider. Earlier this year, we outlined the importance of code compliance and how we learned that a school was forced to remove its lockdown system due to fire code violations. We were truly saddened to learn that had occurred, especially because we know that schools, and facilities of all kinds have limited funds, and that most administrative staff are working hard to ensure that those funds are directed to programs and systems that better their facility. This question is important to ask, especially regarding your choice for a door barricade device, because those devices may not meet your state or local requirements, which could lead to their removal at some point, which increases costs, reduces budget, and removes any safety benefits of the system while it is being replaced.
So, how do you ensure this question is answered?
First, do your research, know what your local fire and building codes are. Some states and municipalities are a little behind on their code updates as most have been working hard to create codes and laws to catch up to the need for building lockdown systems and door barricade devices.
If you can’t find the codes, ask! Contact your local fire or police department. They should be able to at least point you in the direction of the codes online so you can look them over.
Second, ask your lockdown system provider. If they can’t answer your question, they may not be a great choice for you. Any lockdown system provider should understand if their barricade devices comply with building codes, and how those building codes vary from state to state. For example, the building codes in Michigan, our home state, are different than what has been passed in, say, Texas. We keep a library of building codes and make sure that we are constantly updating our policies to match changes in those codes when legislators create or alter them.
From storage of your door barricades, to deployment style, egress codes, and more, these codes can be complicated to navigate. Avoid the financial and safety issues of implementing a system that does not comply with building codes by understanding the codes in your area and choosing a provider that will work with you through the process.
Question 2: Does This System Meet All of Our Requirements?
Once you know that you’re not going to have to remove your system and replace it after it’s installed, it’s a good idea to ask yourself and your staff if the system you are looking to purchase meets your requirements to be effective. What are the key points you are interested in? What will make your building or facility, and those within it, feel safe? What are the main events from which you are trying to protect the important people under your watch? Do you need door barricade devices? Do you already have a secure door system in place but no alert system available?
Asking this question, and the sub-questions that come along with it can give you a good feel for what you need and will lay the foundation for building your system to match your building or facility perfectly.
We’ve worked with different organizations that have been at nearly every stage of the security process, from absolute ground zero, to highly functioning systems that needed one or two more pieces to feel more secure. Any lockdown system provider should have the ability to walk you through this process and make educated suggestions along the way.
Remember, an effective system isn’t just door barricades, it isn’t just an app, it’s a comprehensive approach to your safety and security in the event of any type of lockdown. It’s planning, building mapping, diverse implementation strategies, customization to meet whatever needs you may have, education and training, and continuous improvement.
The question of “does this system meet my requirements?" begins simple, and expands along the way. Make sure you choose a lockdown system provider that understands that and is willing to work through the process with you to ensure you have the most effective system possible when the process is complete.
Question 3: Why Are We Implementing This System?
You may be asking yourself, “Why are these guys asking this? We obviously want a safer building," and we completely understand that thought process, but bear with us on this one because this one can actually be more complicated than you may think when taken at face value. The why can be the most important question you ask when you begin the process, and throughout the process as you decide what features you want, how you want to implement your system, and how you want to train and educate those who may be involved in using your system should a lockdown ever occur.
Example Reason: We’re a school and we want a system to protect our students in the event of a worst case scenario.
This is probably the most common “why" we work with on a daily basis. School shootings are a tragedy that we hope will someday be a thing of the past.
The loss of life of even one child is too much, and so we work with schools every day who want to both prevent these events from occurring, and protect their students and staff if it does occur.
When protecting a school full of children is the reason for implementing a system, there is an entire, exhaustive process in place that begins with the structure and design of the school and their planning processes, and eventually builds to the implementation of a system that combines physical safety implementations, guides and maps, procedural changes or updates, administrative communication, student and staff training, and parent involvement, among other processes.
Example Reason: We’re a government center with advanced security measures in place and want to add certain elements like door barricade devices
When dealing with certain situations, there may already be a robust security system in place that has been built and tested by high-level law enforcement officials. If this is the case, a company like ours will always offer expertise, but it’s also important to understand that if something is effective, ie you already are happy with it, then your lockdown system provider needs the ability to add value to your system by working with it, rather than replacing it.
If you’ve already taken the time to implement an excellent system, great! Make sure you’re working with a company that can be flexible and has the ability to customize their system to meet your needs, rather than forcing you to meet theirs.
Bonus Question: How Are We Going to Pay for This?
This is a question that we encounter at varying levels of our process in working with customers. Sometimes it’s the first question, sometimes it’s the last question, but one thing is certain, it is always a question, and the answer can vary from situation to situation.
Some schools and other public facilities are afforded access to grants, which is a great way to start. One example of this is The Michigan Competitive School Safety Grant which awarded over $25 million dollars to various schools in Michigan to implement safety and security systems, many of whom choose The LockOut Company as their provider of choice.
There are also other ways to manage funding a large project like a lockdown system without digging into your facility’s budget. For one, incentives and financing can be offered by your lockdown system provider. In other cases, like with The LockOut Company, we use the energy savings from LED changeover to help offset some of the costs of our system.
However you decide to pay for your system, the financial investment should never come between you and the safety and security that a lockdown system can provide. Many companies, including ours, will work with nearly any financial situation to ensure that you have the opportunity to keep your facility safe.