Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Jun 28 2011

Lever Return

Category: Accessibility,Fire Doors,Locks & KeysLori @ 12:06 am Comments (8)

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.


with-return without-return1

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8 Responses to “Lever Return”

  1. Chuck Park says:

    Has there been any change in this?

  2. Scott Tice says:

    I had heard it was for fire hoses as well. Interesting!

  3. H. M. Kang says:


    I saw this article today.
    Is there any change for the requirement such as NFPA 101 in 2013?

    • Lori says:

      No, there is nothing in the most current versions of NFPA 101, the IBC, the ADA, or A117.1 regarding lever return, but it is still in the California code.

  4. charlie clifton says:

    this is the best reason for the return lever its all about the kids right

    the straight lever is at the right height for a running and tripping kid

    plus your button front shirt or jacket will not get caught on the return lever

    and you will keep the fire man pulling his hose through the building happy

    i am still looking for that pic I saw on the net with a straight lever stuck in a kids eye socket

    always use return levers equals no problems

    straight levers equals problems

  5. charlie clifton says:

    I’m talking about commercial buildings and institution only not residential if you want a knife sticking out you door a home who cares. If your kids never been in a car accident why wear a seat belt? We should get rid of ADA codes and just tell people if they cant access a building to bad your not advanced enough to come in. your too blind, crippled, old. Why do we spend time and money on anti ligature hardware in jails would it not be OK for someone in jail to hang them self. prisoners on death row are on 24 hour suicide watch doesn’t make sense to me. But a lever returning to the door make sense. And it looks better.

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