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Exercise caution when dealing with code issues


If you own commercial property in St. Paul, you probably know you have to comply with various Minnesota building and fire codes. The building must meet code and have the correct number of exit doors, stairwells, hallways and all of the other myriad requirements. This is made more complex, as some elements of your building's structure may be "grandfathered in," and other requirements may be mandatory.


It is crucial that your building meets all necessary code requirements, as some violations, such as those with the fire code, may make your property uninsurable and may be grounds for a denial of coverage in the event of a loss related to the property.


Recent events involving shootings in schools and other public places have led some entrepreneurs to sell "barricade devices" for use in the event of an emergency. However, as a new story from Ohio points out, the use of such devices could present significant problems for any building owner.

Some states now allow the use of such devices, but school districts are currently waiting for regulations governing the construction and operation of these barricades. The legislature authorized the devices, and the state building board is attempting to draft regulations.

They are facing an April deadline next year, and would prefer guidance from a body such as the International Code Council. However, they may not have a choice in order to meet the legislative deadline.

In such situations, there is a sense that the device should "do no harm" and not create the potential to make matters worse in an active shooter or some other catastrophic scenario.

With more threats appearing every day, the urge to "do something" can be strong. When it comes to your building, you should consult with professional legal, insurance and architectural advisors prior to attempting to make any changes such as this with your property, especially if the changes could affect code compliance or your insurance coverage.

Source:, "Ohio School Barricade Devices Continue to Cause Concern," Andrew Welsh-Huggins, November 18, 2015

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