Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Email:, Blog: or

Dec 12 2017

WWYD? Dorm-Room Doors Without Closers

Category: Fire Doors,WWYD?Lori @ 1:14 am Comments (0)

I just saw an article in the Preston Blog, about a fire in a block of student apartments that was contained by a closed and latched fire door assembly in a fire barrier.  These photos from the Preston Fire Department accompanied the article, and clearly show the effects of the fire on one side of the door, while the non-fire side is unscathed:

This article reminded me of a recent call from a hardware consultant, who was writing a specification for a college dormitory.  In order to improve interaction and communication between students in the dorm, the architect had requested a code modification to omit the door closers from the fire door assemblies so the students could leave the doors open.  And the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) approved the request.

This is a very delicate situation.  Personally, I disagree with this code modification.  Fire doors are supposed to close and latch to help compartmentalize the building and deter the spread of smoke and flames.  But the hardware consultant’s job is to serve the architect, and it’s always best to avoid opposing the AHJ if possible.


Photos:  Preston Fire Department

Dec 11 2017

Number of Operations for ACCESS

A few weeks ago I received a question about whether there is a limit on the number of operations required for access to a dwelling unit, in order to meet the accessibility standards.  I knew that there was nothing about this stated in the accessibility standards, which require hardware that can be operated without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.  Some accessibility standards also require hardware that is operable with one hand, with the releasing mechanism mounted in a certain reach range, and/or hardware that can be operated with a limited amount of force.

The building codes and fire codes include some of these same requirements, and limit most locking/latching hardware to one releasing operation for egress.  In most cases, dwelling units are allowed to have an additional night latch, deadbolt, or security chain, which would result in additional releasing operations for egress.  But there is nothing stated in the model codes and standards regarding the number of operations for access.

The situation (hundreds of locks already installed) made it crucial for me to procure SOMETHING stating that it was acceptable to have a lock that requires 3 releasing operations for access, as long as those operations are not required to be performed simultaneously, using both hands or an excessive amount of dexterity.  The lock in question was a Schlage FE410 – a residential access control lock.  To operate this lock, you present a fob or other access-control credential to unlock the deadbolt, use a thumbturn to retract the deadbolt, and use the lever to retract the latchbolt.  Here’s a quick video of how it works:

It’s not always easy to prove something code-related when that requirement is not specifically addressed in the codes and standards.  I spoke with about 20 organizations and AHJs, and all agreed that the codes and standards do not state a limit on the required number of operations for access.  The problem was that many of the people I spoke to were not allowed to respond in writing.  After receiving email responses from the US Access Board, the National Disability Rights Network, the ADA National Network, and an ADA consultant in California, I had the written confirmation needed to show that the lock meets the accessibility requirements.  The ADA consultant’s letter stated, “I’m a C-5 Quadriplegic with very limited hand function and this hardware is easily used.”

One of the interesting things that came up during the time spent getting this clarification, is that the proposed alternative was to equip the accessible dwelling units with key-operated locks instead of access-control locks.  Because keys are not a permanent part of the operable hardware, they are not addressed by the accessibility standards.  So the idea behind using keyed locks on the accessible units was that they are technically acceptable even though they require the key to be grasped, inserted, twisted, removed, and sometimes repeated for the latching hardware in addition to the deadbolt.  This operation is obviously much more difficult than the access-control lock.

Now that I have the documentation regarding the number of releasing operations for access, the lack of a prescriptive requirement in the model codes and standards should not create a problem in the future.  If you need any help with this issue, just let me know.

Dec 08 2017

FF: Tubes

Category: Fixed-it FridayLori @ 9:34 am Comments (16)

The insight and ideas you share when I post a question are amazing!  I really had no idea what was going on in yesterday’s post, but several of you knew right away.  Another mystery solved – and thank you!

A few weeks ago I was in an old factory that is now a complex of art galleries.  It took me a minute to figure out what these tubes were for.  This is the first one I saw…

Then I found another pair with some more clues (I love how the wall is routed out for the tubes and the bars lower down)…

There’s this thing above the door (it looks like something’s missing)…

A little better view of what’s left of the missing piece…

This looks like the missing piece – I’m glad I wasn’t there when the leather strap let go…

Got it now?

I will be out of the office today, delivering gifts for 62 kids and 3 teachers at our rural sister-school!  The elementary school has 36 kids in grades 1-6 with ONE TEACHER (the other teachers are for kinder and pre-k).  When you think your job is hectic, imagine keeping track of 36 kids all alone.  Yikes!

Next Page »