By Victor Tence
City College administration was unaware that door barricade devices—that were known to be fire code violations at the time of their installation and were slated for removal in November—were still installed in classrooms as late as Jan. 29.
City College installed the door barricade locks in response to an armed kidnapping event that took place in 2015. The neighborhood newspaper Ingleside-Excelsior Light used public record requests to demonstrate that the locks were in violation of the fire code when they were installed. Emails obtained by the IE Light showed the school was aware that such devices required permission from the fire marshal, which they did not obtain.
Faculty in the Mission and Ocean campuses noticed that the foot-activated door locks had begun disappearing from their classrooms in early December, less than a month after the IE Light published their story on Nov. 8.
Faculty members said the devices were removed without any explanation or notification from administration. Emails obtained by The Guardsman show faculty members asking each other in confusion if anyone knew why the safety devices were disappearing before someone posted a link to the recently published IE Light story.
City College spokesperson Jeff Hamilton told The Guardsman in an email dated Jan. 26 that “we have removed all barricade devices in our classrooms as requested by the San Francisco Fire Department.”
However, The Guardsman found numerous fully functional barricade locks remained in classrooms as late as Jan. 29.
Reuben Smith, the new interim vice chancellor for facilities who joined CIty College in January, said he was surprised to find that the fire code violating locks had not been fully addressed.
“I was under the assumption when I got here that they were all removed from the classroom,” Smith said. “I did a spot inspection and I didn’t see any of them, so I assumed they were removed.”
However, Smith said a campus carpenter later found more of them installed and had them removed.
Smith encourages students who see door barricade locks to report the device through the Schooldude work order system on the City College website.
City college has not abandoned the idea of implementing a type of barricading device as part of its campus safety infrastructure. “Our vice chancellor for facilities is working with our police chief on acquiring new security devices that are fire code compliant,” said Hamilton.
Smith was hesitant to provide a timeline or budget for the installation of the new door barricades as his team is still assessing the scope of the project, taking into account the wide variety of door types, frames and mechanisms that exist across the campus.
“It would probably fall into next year,” he said. “Best case scenario, we can have a summer project…The one thing I don’t want to do is upset any of the instruction for the spring semester.”