TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - School may be out for summer in Vigo county but work is underway to make sure students are safe when they return to class.
Terre Haute Assistant Fire Chief Norm Loudermilk explains the Vigo County School Corporation contacted the department to review its fire protection plan. School officials wanted to address safety concerns regarding active shooter situations.
Loudermilk says, "What we're seeing is bad guys are going into schools and they're pulling fire alarms and when they get the kids in the hallways then they have more victims that they can shoot at."
The district asked about installing door locks that include plates for the floor and door and a red key that would connect them.
Loudermilk says, "You essentially lock the people in the room and there is no way to get in or out accept to pull that red device out of there. That becomes a violation of fire code because you have to be able to exit the room without some form of special knowledge or key and of course that requires a key and absolutely requires special knowledge."
The key would be kept in a box above the door for use in an emergency. This kind of lock costs about sixty dollars.
Loudermilk explains the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office is working with the Indiana Fire and Building Commission to change legislation to allow schools to use devices like the door locks.
Local fire officials acknowledge the use of the locks brings up other concerns like the key getting in the wrong hands or doors locked during an actual fire.
Fire Chief Jeff Fisher says there is a tool first responders can use to remove the key from the outside so he is in favor of installing the devices.
Loudermilk says he hopes something can be done to get these locks installed by the end of summer before students return to school.
This is not the only effort to keep students safe. Earlier this year the police and fire departments signed off on a policy requiring students shelter in place for up to forty-five seconds after a fire alarm goes off. This allows staff to check for a fire or potential shooter before sending people into the halls.
Loudermilk says, "The people at the school then have a chance to verify if an alarm is real or not and then if it's, of course, real, if they see smoke, then they'll evacuate the students."
Do you think these should be installed in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.
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