New Foundation President, Jay Manzo, CPA Raising Awareness about Mission, Message


Even though the Door Security & Safety Foundation is more than 20 years old, many people in our industry are not aware of the Foundation and its mission. As the new DSSF President, I am committed to continue to raise awareness about the important work being done by the Foundation and why donating to the Foundation to support this work is vital.

The Foundation’s mission is to promote secure and safe openings that enhance life safety. We do this through awareness, education and advocacy.

Opening the Door to School Safety

Almost two years ago, we launched a campaign for school administrators, Opening the Door to School Safety, about the dangers of temporary door locking devices and advocating for the use of those with expertise about the opening who can provide schools with code-complaint solutions.

This public relations campaign raises awareness about the importance of safely securing classroom doors with code-compliant methods and points to the experts who can assist administrators in balancing the life safety and security needs of their schools – door security and safety professionals.

When we launched the campaign in 2016, this was a growing concern but not very well known nationwide or in Canada. The campaign then reached tens of thousands via social media campaigns and a new website full of resources at Unfortunately, the growing concerns about school security have made this initiative more important than it was only two years ago. This is now a number one strategic priority for DSSF, and as such, a task force has been formed to help lead the Foundation’s work on this initiative.

The DSSF School Security Task Force will provide our Board of Trustees with updates and recommendations on this issue, which are coming quickly, particularly in the legislative area. We saw this coming several years ago, and we acted publicly when we launched our campaign across North America.

The task force recently held its first meeting to review the landscape of this issue today, identify the key organizations involved, and understand how quickly things are progressing as school shootings are on the rise and legislative matters are moving quickly state by state.

Moving forward, we will continue to speak out, take action and provide resources to support the safety and security of our schools. We are considering strategies with key collaborators such as the Secure School Alliance, Safe and Sound Schools, Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Fire Protection Association, Security Industry Association, ASIS International and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association.

Our message was prominently illustrated at DHI Connextions 2018 in Baltimore with a keynote by Sandy Hook parent Michele Gay that captured the crowd. In addition, several education sessions around the issue of school security reinforced our message that our industry stands ready and willing to be part of the solution to help balance the need for security with the requirements of life safety.

Our website—— is home to a growing library of resources and information. We encourage you to go to this website to watch our video on the dangers of barricade devices, download a host of resources, including a toolkit, fact sheets, white papers and articles, and share this information with your colleagues and your communities.

Fire and Egress Door Inspection Initiative

The Foundation supports the annual fire/egress door inspection initiative by creating awareness of this important update to NFPA 80 and 101 and their inclusion in the International Building Code and International Fire Code. Through our educational efforts we help stakeholders understand the code implications and complexity of the products and applications.

NFPA PartnershiP

In 2015, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) began a new strategic focus in their fire door inspection education. DSSF began to engage with NFPA to learn about the possible synergies for building and delivering education programs together.

The partnership grew to include webinars about NFPA 80 which drew more than 2,000 participants. DSSF was contracted to author education for an online NFPA class, and co-hosted some smaller training sessions together, including at DHI’s conNextions for local AHJs and facility personnel.

In 2016, we co-hosted our formal first education session for healthcare personnel, covering NFPA 80 and 101, and providing DSSF and NFPA publications to students. This class was deemed a success and a schedule of classes was launched in 2017 and a new formal agreement was put in place. In 2017 we conducted nine of these classes in East Coast and West Coast locations. This successful partnership earned DSSF over $40,000 in revenue in 2017.

As this partnership with NFPA has evolved, they have continued to use our publications to provide education to healthcare facility personnel and DSSF has pivoted to launch the Education Advocate Program. This program uses a network of nearly 500 Fire and Egress Door Assembly Inspectors (FDAIs) to educate healthcare facility personnel, as it has always been the goal of DSSF to provide such opportunities to qualified door security and safety professionals. FDAIs who become Education Advocates have an exclusive opportunity to deliver all of the Foundation’s education to healthcare facility personnel and AHJs.

Hundreds of healthcare personnel have been trained through this program and the program continues to grow. This offering is a value-add for the FDAIs, including pull-through opportunities for their businesses as well. If you’re interested in participating, contact Sharon Newport at to learn more about this opportunity to grow your inspection business.

Advocating for DHI-credentialed Professionals

In addition to our advocacy in the school security and fire door inspection program efforts, the Foundation engages with all stakeholders in the building construction community to advocate for knowledgeable experts such as DHI-credentialed professionals. Our work focuses on healthcare facility maintenance directors, engineers and mechanics for our awareness and education activities surrounding fire door inspection requirements, school administrators and superintendents on the school security initiative, as well as AHJs and the design community.

Timothy T. Taylor, AIA, FDHI, a former DSSF Board of Trustees member and Director of Specifications for Gensler, says, “The expertise found in the door and hardware industry is essential in solving a lot of problems we have as architects in serving our clients and protecting the public health and safety. We specify the AHC credential in our work globally as a threshold of quality that we want for all of our work. The expertise found in DHI and the door and hardware industry is like no other in the world.”

Strategic Plan

Going forward into 2019, the DSSF Board of Trustees has agreed on these three strategic priorities and we will need your support to make them a reality: 

  • By 2019, the Foundation has an effective communications plan that advocates for the use of experts in door security and safety professionals to key audiences in order to keep the public safe and secure.
  • By 2020, the Foundation has helped to establish a very effective industry enterprise to advocate for school safety and utilizing code compliant products and solutions to key stakeholders, such as school administrators and legislative authorities.
  • By 2020, the Foundation continues to be a leading advocate for annual fire and egress door assembly inspections in healthcare, and will evolve in the education sector for public safety and security.

As you can see, the Foundation has had a busy year and is poised to carry this important work into 2019 and beyond. But we can’t do this without your help. As we begin our busiest fundraising season of the year, we hope you are inspired and encouraged by the work for your Foundation.

If you have any questions about our work or are ready to make a pledge, please contact our CEO, Jerry Heppes, CAE, at If you’re ready to give, visit to do so online. Thank you for your continued support.

Sidebar: History of the Foundation 

  • 1997 – The Door Security + Safety Foundation launches as the DHI Education Foundation focused on industry research, education and scholarships – internally focused on the industry.
  • 2006 – To accurately reflect the work undertaken by the Foundation, including educating the industry in the code acceptance process, the Foundation’s name is changed to the Foundation for the Advancement of Life Safety and Security.
  • 2007 – The Foundation decides to advocate to key stakeholders on behalf of the industry to advance the fire door inspection concept and help DHI launch the FDAI program. Advocacy continues to support the need to use professionals in designing, supplying, maintaining and upgrading door assemblies continued while growing the scholarship program.
  • 2009 – The Foundation’s name is changed to its current name – the Door Security & Safety Foundation—to better clarify and reflect its mission.
  • 2014 – The Foundation becomes laser focused on healthcare to advance fire door inspections, advocacy for DHI-certified members and growing the scholarship program for the industry.
  • 2016 – A public relations campaign, Opening the Door to School Safety is launched along with a website,, to tackle the concern about barricade devices in schools and growing legislative concerns surrounding school security.
  • 2018 – The Foundation continues to grow the fire door inspection initiative in the healthcare building sector and school security issues such as the rapidly evolving active shooter crises are creating fear-based decisions impacting the use of code-compliant products and state legislation, creating unintended consequences. The need for qualified and knowledgeable professionals managing egress has never been more important.


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