I originally published the post below in May 0f 2009, but I’m trying to gather some information so I’ve pulled it up to the front again. Please take a moment to answer the quick survey about lever return in your area. Thanks!
Over the years I’ve heard many times that certain jurisdictions required lever handles to return back to within 1/2″ of the face of the door so the fire hoses wouldn’t be caught behind the levers. I did some research on this a while back, and I was told by a code official in California that it didn’t have anything to do with catching fire hoses, but with catching clothing, handbags, etc. as people attempted to exit.
I was asked again last week whether the lever handle had to return back toward the door. The only place I’ve seen this requirement in writing is in the California Referenced Standards Code:
Levers. The lever of lever-actuated levers or locks shall be curved with a return to within 1/2″ of the face of the door to prevent catching on the clothing of persons during egress.
There may be local jurisdictions that require returns on lever handles, but it is not a requirement of the ADAAG, A117.1, Massachusetts 521 CMR, the IBC, or NFPA 101.