Mother of Shooting Victim Urges Industry: Be a Part of the Solution

A powerful keynote address from the mother of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 was a major focus at the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI) Connextions conference and trade show, which took place May 9-11 in Baltimore. Michele Gay, the co-founder and executive director of Safe and Sound Schools, used a soothing voice and calm stage presence to give a harrowing blow-by-blow account of the shooting that took place on December 14, 2012. That was the day a mentally disturbed young man blasted through locked floor-to-ceiling glass entry doors with a semi-automatic rifle, murdering 20 young children and six adult staff members before killing himself. One of the slain students was Gay’s daughter, Josephine.

Gay pointed out places inside Sandy Hook Elementary School where glass and door technology failed to protect students and teachers.

“The ability to quickly and simply lock a classroom door could have changed the outcome of the day exponentially,” she said. “I share these things because I believe that because you walked through this with me, you have information to do some-thing better. You have the power to learn and change and better inform how we prepare our most precious people for crises.”

She urged door and hardware professionals to continue their work to prevent these tragedies.

“This is a room full of problem solvers and innovators,” she said. “Use your gifts and talents to be a part of the solution.”

A visibly moved Jerry Heppes, CEO of the Door and Hardware Institute, followed Gay at the podium and promised that his industry would do every-thing it could to make schools safer.

“We will answer the call that you asked,” he said. “Through improved products, through stronger standards, through advocating on school projects to incorporate solutions that match budgets when we can’t get the funding.”

Another speaker, Mark Lineberger, an electronic sales engineer with Allegion, presented about school security strategies with an emphasis on ensuring that life safety codes are followed.

“I can’t drive home how important code compliance is,” he said.

Lineberger said life safety codes were set up in response to tragedies such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which 146 garment workers, mostly women, died because locked stairwell doors prevented their escape.

Those codes have evolved to deal with new threats. In the 2018 Inter-national Building Code, new language provides specific requirements that aim to keep intruders from entering rooms.

Lineberger also discussed new locking technologies, such as remote lockdown via a fob or remote device. However, he urged attendees to be careful when modifying existing openings with untested or non-compliant devices, because they can have unintended consequences and expose students and staff to new risks and liabilities.

Trade Show

DHI Connextions also featured a trade show with about 90 exhibitors, mostly focused on the commercial market.

“This show right now looks better than it has in a long time,” said Jeff Graveline, afield sales consultant with Accurate Lock and Hardware. “We’re here in the Northeast market this year. We were in Phoenix last year and it felt like it was half the size of this.”

Allegion‘s big booth featured the full range of its commercial safety and security solutions.

“There are a lot of electronics in the multifamily end,” said the company‘s Dave Dezio.

Assa Abloy also showed off a full range of products, including new sustainable openings that require just a thousandth of an amp to run, said the company‘s Dave Moncure.

Assa Abloy also had “intelligent keys” that put the chip in the bow of the key and a chip in the cylinder, so there’s no need for the cuts on a key.

“You’re mating computer chips together,” Moncure said.

SDC showed off an electrified lock set that’s motor-driven instead of dependent on a solenoid, said Mary Hester, a regional sales manager with the company.

ODl‘s Blink blinds-between-glass product has been popular on the residential side for a few years, and it’s made big gains in the multifamily segment, said Jim Rohnkohl, the company’s director of sales and marketing for commercial and multifamily. Now it‘s branching out into the commercial market.

“We want to be in the architectural community and we want to really work to grow our business.” he said. “In educational facilities, when you get into lockdown situations where you‘re sup- posed to close off vision into a class- room if you have an active shooter, you don’t want them to be able to see into the classroom. This type of application would be perfect. This also works well in hospital and detention facilities.”

SAFFI First’s Jim Kavalec said the company is currently testing a new 90-minute fire-rated clear glass product.

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