Last week, someone asked me about code requirements related to panic hardware on balanced doors. (If you’re not sure what a balanced door is, there’s a good explanation here.) The project in question is in Israel, and apparently the code requirements there do not include any specific requirements for panic hardware on balanced doors. However, the codes used most often in the U.S. do contain applicable requirements.
Both NFPA 101 and the IBC state that when panic hardware is used on balanced doors, the panic hardware must be the “push-pad” (touchpad) type, and the pad shall extend not more than one-half the width of the door. This is different from the requirements for panic hardware on standard swinging doors, where the pad must be at least one-half the width of the door.
The reason push-pad/touchpad style panics are required (in lieu of crossbar style) is because pushing on the wrong end of a crossbar style panic device will not open a balanced door because of the pivot configuration. With a push-pad / touchpad style panic, it’s more obvious that pushing on the pad will allow egress, and it’s less likely that someone will push on an area of the device that will not open the door.
Here are the applicable code excerpts:
NFPA 101 – “Balanced Door Assemblies. If panic hardware is installed on balanced door leaves, the panic hardware shall be of the push-pad type, and the pad shall not extend more than approximately one-half the width of the door leaf, measured from the latch stile.”
IBC – “If balanced doors are used and panic hardware is required, the panic hardware shall be the push-pad type and the pad shall not extend more then one-half the width of the door measured from the latch side.“
<– This is a photo of the application in Israel, which is a tubular panic device on a balanced door. This is not a push-pad device as required by U.S. codes, but because of the shape of the device with an obvious vertical leg (the device has also been engraved with “PUSH”), it’s possible that a code official might accept the use of this product on a balanced door. If this application was used in the U.S., it would require approval from the code official.
As a side note, the green doors pictured above and at right are on the Transportation Building in Boston. Years ago our office was involved with retrofitting automatic operators on a couple of doors at this very busy main entrance, and it looks like they’re still going strong!
Photo of doors with tubular panic hardware courtesy of Keith Laduzinsky of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies in Israel.