Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Oct 08 2009

Restaurant Egress

Category: Egress,Panic HardwareLori @ 11:04 pm Comments (2)

Happy Halloween!I’d be rich if I had a dime for every time I explained that panic hardware is required for Assembly and Educational occupancies with an occupant load of more than 100 people (per IBC 2000 or 2003, NFPA 101) or more than 50 people (per IBC 2006 or 2009).  Well, maybe I’d just have a bunch of dimes, but I’ve said it lots of times and sometimes people still have a hard time remembering it.  Here’s a true story that will help.

Tonight, I met two of my friends (“regular people,” not “hardware people”) at the local Mexican restaurant for some post-PTO meeting quesadillas.  Apparently this was the first time we’ve ever closed the place (at 10:30), because when we attempted to leave, each of my friends tried unsuccessfully to open the door.

There was a life-size skeleton set up in the vestibule, and it was all decorated with spooky lights for Halloween.  The regular lights were low or off.  The front door had a deadbolt on it, and I flipped the thumbturn so we could get out, but it was interesting watching my friends’ reaction to the locked exit door.  It was unexpected since it has always been push/pull before, so they just kept pushing on it – a typical reaction.  The darkened vestibule added to the confusion.

The IBC does allow deadbolts on certain egress doors, but several requirements must be met:

  • Their use is limited to Assembly occupancies with an occupant load of 300 or less, or Business, Factory, Mercantile, and Storage occupancies, or places of religious worship.
  • The main exterior door is permitted to be equipped with a key-operated locking device
  • The locking device has to indicate whether it is locked or unlocked.
  • Signage is required (see below).
  • The code official can revoke they use of the key-operated lock for due cause.

The restaurant had an occupant load of more than 100 people (triggering the requirement for panic hardware) but less than 300 people.  However, the deadlock was operated with a thumbturn, not a key, there was no indication of whether the door was locked, and no signage.  Not to mention that it was locked while the building was still occupied.  This door should have had panic hardware.  Under different circumstances this could have been a dangerous situation.

Here is the text from the 2009 International Building Code:

1008.1.9.3 Locks and latches. (Previously 1008.1.8.3)

Locks and latches shall be permitted to prevent operation of doors where any of the following exists:
1. Places of detention or restraint.
2. In buildings in occupancy Group A having an occupant load of 300 or less, Groups B, F, M and S, and in places of religious worship, the main exterior door or doors are permitted to be equipped with key-operated locking devices from the egress side provided:
2.1. The locking device is readily distinguishable as locked;
2.2. A readily visible durable sign is posted on the egress side on or adjacent to the door stating: THIS DOOR TO REMAIN  UNLOCKED WHEN BUILDING IS OCCUPIED.  The sign shall be in letters 1 inch (25 mm) high on a contrasting background; and
2.3. The use of the key-operated locking device is revokable by the building official for due cause.

2 Responses to “Restaurant Egress”

  1. John Henry, AHC says:

    Lori, In this you say the occupancy of 100 triggers the need for panic hardware, but ICC says the A-E occupancy only. The restaurant I say is business occupancy so panic hardware really should not be required…not against you on the idea of the panic hardware. Is is it possible that the 300 load would indicate the need for panic hardware on the “main” egress and other exits around the perimeter. It is not real clear in this area. I have always suggested to put panic hardware based on 300. I do get challanged on that interpretation but have alway felt that was the intent of the 300 load.

    • Lori says:

      The IBC requires panic hardware for A & E occupancies with 50 people or more, and classifies a restaurant as an Assembly occupancy:

      303.3 Assembly Group A-2. Group A-2 occupancy includes assembly uses intended for food and/or drink consumption including, but not limited to: Banquet halls, Casinos (gaming areas), Nightclubs, Restaurants, cafeterias and similar dining facilities (including associated commercial kitchens), Taverns and bars.

      A small restaurant or cafe could be considered a Business occupancy, but because the IBC limits these small restaurants to an occupant load of less than 50, they would not require panic hardware, and a restaurant with a load of more than 50 would be an Assembly occupancy and would require panic hardware. Here’s the section from the 2015 IBC:

      303.1.1 Small buildings and tenant spaces. A building or tenant space used for assembly purposes with an occupant load of less than 50 persons shall be classified as a Group B occupancy.

      The IBC Commentary says: “There are often small establishments that typically serve food and have a few seats that technically meet the definition of an assembly Group A occupancy but due to the low occupant load pose a lower risk than a typical assembly occupancy. These types of buildings and tenant spaces are to be considered as Group B occupancies when the occupant load is determined to be less than 50 persons. Examples of this include small “fast food” establishments and small “mom-and-pop” cafes or coffee shops.”

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