NFPA held a School Safety, Codes and Security workshop in December 2014 that addressed the need to balance fire safety against security safety in response to a number of active shooter and hostile events that had occurred in recent years. While many of the recommendations from that report have been integrated into several NFPA codes and standards, the multiple deadly incidents that have taken place since then underscore the fact that there’s still much more work to be done.
Following up on the 2014 workshop’s initial recommendations, NFPA kicked off a two-day Building Safety and Security workshop today with the goal of expanding the discussion to include all types of buildings and venues, and to identify other solutions that can be applied to targeted violence events. Attendees invited to help us in this effort reflect professionals from a diverse range of industries, groups and organizations directly and indirectly impacted by active shooter and hostile events. They arrived at NFPA headquarters ready to bring their experience and insights to the table as we work to fulfill this challenging agenda.
The morning kicked off with a presentation by Natalie Hammond (photo above), who was the lead teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people were killed on December 14, 2012. Hammond provided an overview of the morning’s events, demonstrating where gaps in existing procedures and protocols can contribute to tragic outcomes. Her gripping and informative overview was followed by Geoff Craighead (photo below), a security executive at Allied Universal, the largest security firm in the U.S., who delivered an overview of today’s security and life safety threats (including terrorist attacks) in multiple occupancies, and discussed best practices for preventing and managing them.
From there, attendees broke out into two focus groups. One group worked to address built environment challenges, while the other is addressing emergency planning for occupants, as well as messaging challenges and first responder coordination. These breakout sessions will continue tomorrow, and additional presentations will be made to continue addressing specific aspects of the issues at hand.
As the first day of the workshop resumes, it’s clear that managing the complexity of the mitigation measures, developing operational plans for building occupants, and ensuring coordinated efforts by first responders will be no easy task, but these efforts are paramount if our codes and standards are expected to make a difference in the long run.