This post was printed in the February 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware
It’s hard to believe that this question still comes up as often as it does, so I’m hoping to definitively answer it once and for all. The question is “Do single bathrooms require locks which release with one operation?”
The question is most often asked in regard to single bathrooms, but it could apply to other rooms as well. Does a storage room door need to unlatch with one operation? How about a fitting room in a clothing store? I know it’s fairly common to see a latchset/lockset with a separate deadbolt above it, but the locations where this is allowed are actually very limited.
In my opinion, egress doors need to unlatch with one operation unless they’re on the list of exceptions that I’ll cover below. When I say “unlatch with one operation,” I mean that when you turn the lever on a lockset, retract a deadbolt with a thumbturn, OR push on the touchpad of a panic device – only ONE of those operations, not multiple – the door is unlatched and ready to be opened. The act of opening the door by pushing or pulling on it does not count as one of the operations, as the requirement is that the doors UNLATCH with one operation, not OPEN with one operation.
I combed through the codes and standards to see what I could find on this topic, and here’s what I learned:
International Building Code (2009) states that “the unlatching of any door or leaf shall not require more than one operation.” The exceptions are 1) places of detention or restraint, 2) doors where manual flush bolts are allowed (new in 2009, so check it out), 3) doors with automatic flush bolts, and 4) doors from individual Group R dwelling units with an occupant load of 10 or less – a separate nightlatch, deadbolt, or security chain is allowed, as long as it doesn’t require a key or tool to release it from the interior.*
NFPA 101 (2009) states that the releasing mechanism on the door must not require more than one releasing operation, with the exception of residential dwelling units. The requirements for residential dwelling units are similar to the IBC – the separate lock on a dwelling unit door must be able to be released without a key or tool.*
ADA (2010) & ICC/ANSI A117.1 (2003) – I could not find any language in the current standards regarding a single operation, only that the hardware is operable with one hand (somebody correct me if I’m wrong), but your local accessibility standards may include this requirement (Massachusetts AAB standards do).
NFPA 80 (2007) states that separate deadbolts are only allowed on fire doors which are not in the means of egress, which muddies things a bit because the life safety and building codes would allow a separate deadbolt on a fire-rated dwelling unit entry door. The life safety and building codes would prevail in this situation.
*Be careful of local codes as they may include requirements for accessible/adaptable dwelling units with interconnected locks (Massachusetts AAB standards do).
The bottom line is that a single bathroom does require hardware which unlatches with one operation, and this would also apply to other types of rooms unless they are on the list of exceptions.
This post was originally created on August 25th, 2010, and was printed in the February 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware magazine.
If you’d like to read some discussion about this topic including a staff opinion from the ICC, here’s a link to the Advanced Code Group board, and here are the code excerpts referenced by this post.