Today I have an interesting question involving Police, Fire and university administration.
A little bit of background: for the past few years, my University has been involved in a small, awkward cold war with local emergency responders over expectations on live-in Residential Assistants during emergency situations. Specifically, the biggest flashpoints are fire alarms and wellness checks on residents.
Within the dorms, we have been told that both Campus Police and Local Fire Departments have been provided keys to all rooms in case an emergency (fire or safety) is reported. We have also been told that we are, under no circumstances, to assist Police or Fire with entering a room (to which we have keys as Resident Assistants, for lockouts and the like) until we have received permission from several layers of (on-call) department administration.
The heads of the Residential Services Office insist that this is to protect the department in the case of a privacy complaint on behalf of a resident who we let police into the room of, and to avoid liability from ordering (by policy) RAs back into a potentially dangerous building under alarm.
Police and fire, meanwhile, never seem to have the keys. Thus, for the safety of the building or the resident, they will order us to open up the door for them, right now.
Which brings us to the issue: Police/fire wants us to open a door, and gives us what I believe is a lawful order do so. Meanwhile, Residence Life policy wants us to call up to our supervisor and follow a whole procedure, directly countermanding the orders of the officer or firefighter on scene.
Must I open the door, legally speaking? And is my department's policy of refusal illegal/unenforceable?