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Nov 11 2011

Decoded: Delayed Egress Hardware – Code Comparison (January 2012)

Category: DHI,Egress,Electrified HardwareLori @ 1:30 am Comments (20)

This post was printed in the January 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware

[Click here to download the reprint of this article.]

Delayed egress hardware prevents a door from being opened from the egress side, usually for a period of 15 seconds. This type of device is often used to prevent theft, while maintaining life safety. The system is most commonly comprised of an exit device incorporating delayed egress features, or an electromagnetic lock and power supply, one of which would contain delayed egress circuitry. When the device is actuated, the door remains locked on the egress side for 15 seconds, and then releases to allow egress.

Before specifying or supplying delayed egress hardware, you must verify that it is allowed to be used in the applicable occupancy classification, and be aware of the other code requirements that pertain to the use of this product. The requirements vary depending on whether you are referring to the International Building Code (IBC) or NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. There may be additional local requirements as well.

NFPA 101 allows the use of delayed egress hardware on all occupancy types (low or ordinary hazard), with some conditions that must be met if it is used (see Table 2). Conversely, the IBC does not allow the use of delayed egress hardware on doors serving Assembly, Educational, or High Hazard occupancies. This means that for jurisdictions enforcing the IBC, delayed egress hardware would not be allowed in schools or in Assembly occupancies like libraries, which would otherwise be prime locations for this type of hardware. In this case a local alarm could be used to deter use of the door, but no delay would be allowed by code. A variance may be granted for certain types of Assembly occupancies such as museums, but the process for obtaining the variance must be followed and documented.

Refer to the following tables for the requirements pertaining to delayed egress hardware, and note the subtle differences between codes. When specifying or supplying delayed egress hardware, verify which code and edition are to be used and the occupancy classification of the project, then apply the appropriate requirements to ensure that your installation is code-compliant.

Table 1: Delayed Egress Hardware – Code Comparison
Code: International Building Code NFPA 101
Editions: 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012 2003, 2006, 2009
Occupancy Types: Allowed in all occupancies EXCEPT A (Assembly), E (Educational), and (H) High Hazard. Allowed in all occupancies (low and ordinary hazard) with some conditions for use. Refer to Table 2.
Products: Approved, listed, delayed egress locks Approved, listed, delayed egress locks
Alarm System: Building must be protected throughout by an automatic sprinkler system or approved automatic smoke or heat detection system Building must be protected throughout by an approved, supervised, automatic fire detection or sprinkler system
Quantity: Building occupant shall not be required to pass through more than one door equipped with a delayed egress lock before entering an exit. Refer to Table 2.
Initiation: 15-pound force applied for 1 second, irreversible process 15-pound force applied for 3 seconds, irreversible process
Rearm: Device must be rearmed manually. Device must be rearmed manually.
Alarm Release: Doors allow immediate egress (no delay) upon actuation of the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system. Capability of release from the fire command center. Doors allow immediate egress (no delay) upon actuation of the sprinkler system, not more than one heat detector, or not more than two smoke detectors
Loss of Power: Doors allow immediate egress (no delay) upon loss of power controlling the delayed egress lock Doors allow immediate egress (no delay) upon loss of power controlling the delayed egress lock
Extension of Delay: Up to 30 second delay when approved by AHJ Up to 30 second delay when approved by AHJ
Audible Alarm: Required, in the vicinity of the door Required, in the vicinity of the door
Signage: On the door, above and within 12″ of the release device, “PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS. DOOR CAN BE OPENED IN 15 [30] SECONDS.” Visible, durable sign on the door leaf adjacent to the release device, with letters 1″ high minimum with 1/8″ minimum stroke width on contrasting background, “PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS DOOR CAN BE OPENED IN 15 [30] SECONDS.”
Emergency Lighting: Required at the door Required at the door

Table 2: Occupancies Permitting Delayed Egress Locks
NFPA 101 – 2003, 2006, 2009 Editions
Occupancy Condition
Assembly Only doors other than main entrance/exit doors may be equipped with delayed egress locks.
Educational / Day Care No restrictions.
Health Care, Lodging and Rooming Houses, Hotels and Dormitories, Apartment Buildings Not more than one delayed egress device may be encountered in any egress path.
Residential Board and Care Exterior doors only. Not more than one delayed egress device may be encountered in any egress path.
Ambulatory Health Care No restrictions (Editions of NFPA 101 prior to 2003 limit the use of delayed egress devices in ambulatory health care occupancies to exterior doors.)
Mercantile, Business, Industrial, Storage No restrictions.

This post was originally created on November 11, 2011, and was printed in the January 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware magazine.

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20 Responses to “Decoded: Delayed Egress Hardware – Code Comparison (January 2012)”

  1. Nolan Thrope says:

    Great info. In New Jersey we can use Delayed Egress on exterior doors in a school. They have been doing it for years. God only knows if they release upon actuation of the fire alarm or smoke detectors.

  2. Brad Keyes says:

    Hi Lori

    Great information. I find delayed egress locks in nearly every hospital that I inspect. Most of them are installed correctly, but frequently I find ignorance where the facility manager allows delayed egress locks without meeting all of the requirements. Sometimes, the building is not 100% protected with automatic sprinklers or fire detection equipment. Sometimes there are multiple delayed egress locks in a path of egress to the public way, and sometimes the required signage is missing.

    On a similar subject, every hospital that I visit has some sort of deficiency with access-control locks, the most common problems being the absence of the required motion sensor on the egress side of the door and the “Push To Exit” button not mounted within 5 feet of the doorway.

    Then, there are the “clinical needs” locks found in section in the 2000 edition of the LSC that are also widely abused and misunderstood, but that’s a subject for another day.

  3. Keith Laduzinsky says:

    How does the code apply to an electromagnetic with delayed action such as Schlage Security – Electro Magnetic M490DE. Can I install a M490DE with an mortise lock with request for exit switch.
    How does this relate to Initiation?
    Rearm, do I need key switch at source to rearm?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Keith –

      A delayed egress mag-lock is not required to meet the code requirements of a standard mag-lock. If it was a standard mag-lock you’d need either an RX or a sensor and a push-button, but with delayed egress mag-locks you don’t need those release devices. You just have to comply with the delayed egress requirements. Delayed egress mag-locks are initiated either by a switch built into the mag-lock or an RX switch. You can use any type of switch to rearm, the rearming just has to be manual, not automatic as was allowed by some earlier codes.

  4. Michael Rebbec says:

    Lori –

    Your Table 2 makes it seems as though in E, B, M, F, and S occupancies that you can have multiple delays in a single route of egress. It is my understanding that in any occupancy only 1 delay can be incurred in a path of egress. Is this correct?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Michael –

      In NFPA 101, some occupancy chapters restrict delayed egress devices to one per means of egress, and other occupancy chapters do not include this restriction. So if we were only looking at 101, you could infer that in the occupancy chapters that don’t mention the restriction, delayed egress devices are not limited to one per egress path. However, the IBC limits delayed egress devices to one delay before entering an exit. In my opinion this means that technically you could have one device leading into a stair (“entering an exit”), and another on the stair discharge. But, since NFPA 101 limits delayed egress devices in some occupancy types to one per means of egress, I like that more cautious approach. I think most code officials would prefer one delay per means of egress.

  5. Tom Breese says:

    jumping in late here: California now also has an “L” Laboratory occupancy, and we cannot use delayed egress there, either.

    More California conditions: must have sprinkler *and* smoke detection system, and an illuminated EXIT sign. If sprinkler *or* smoke system are activated, or if loss of power to EXIT sign, delayed egress device/system must disarm. Must have emergency lighting at the door. Must have remote unlock capability by switch in approved location.

    “…building occupant shall not be required to pass through more than one door equipped with a delayed egress lock before entering an exit.” –> I have always seen this interpreted as only one d/egress opening incurred en route to the exit discharge.

    Alzheimer’s and dementia clientele housing permitted to have 30-second delay w/out special request.

    Don’t have latest NFPA 101, don’t know how CA stacks up…

  6. Craig Luhr says:

    I am concerned about the manual rearm requirement for the delayed egress maglock. My question is what is the maximum height requirement for the rearm switch? Delayed egress mag locks have the rearm key switch built into the maglock. This can place the rearm switch at heights above 7 feet. Where is the code requirement for the maximum height of a reset switch? I can add a key switch on the wall but would prefer not to as my walls have high end finishes.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Craig –

      The height of this switch is not specifically defined in the codes. If an AHJ required the height to be within the limits for operable hardware, it would be 34-48 inches above the floor.

      – Lori

  7. Craig Luhr says:


    Thank for your reply. I have researched this everywhere I can and it ultimately(as in most cases)fall under the AHJ. However, the following excerpts from IBC is the best answer I can find.
    1008.1.9.1 Hardware. Door handles, pulls, latches, locks and other operating devices on doors required to be accessible by Chapter 11 shall not require tight grasping, tight pinching or twisting of the wrist to operate.
    1008.1.9.2 Hardware height. Door handles, pulls, latches, locks and other operating devices shall be installed 34 inches (864 mm) minimum and 48 inches (1219 mm) maximum above the finished floor. Locks used only for security purposes and not used for normal operation are permitted at any height.
    1008.1.9.7 Delayed egress locks. Approved, listed, delayed egress locks shall be permitted to be installed on doors serving any occupancy except Group A, E and H occupancies in buildings that are equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or an approved automatic smoke or heat detection system installed in accordance with Section 907, provided that the doors unlock in accordance with Items 1 through 6 below. A building occupant shall not be required to pass through more than one door equipped with a delayed egress lock before entering an exit.
    1. The doors unlock upon actuation of the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system.
    2. The doors unlock upon loss of power controlling the lock or lock mechanism.
    3. The door locks shall have the capability of being unlocked by a signal from the fire command center.
    4. The initiation of an irreversible process which will release the latch in not more than 15 seconds when a force of not more than 15 pounds (67 N) is applied for 1 second to the release device. Initiation of the irreversible process shall activate an audible signal in the vicinity of the door. Once the door lock has been released by the application of force to the releasing device, relocking shall be by manual means only.
    1109.12 Controls, operating mechanisms and hardware. Controls, operating mechanisms and hardware intended for operation by the occupant, including switches that control lighting and ventilation and electrical convenience outlets, in accessible spaces, along accessible routes or as parts of accessible elements shall be accessible.

    I am considering the fact that the re-arming function is part of the operation of delayed-egress hardware.
    I will push to remove the delayed egress mag locks and move toward delayed egress exit devices.

    Please correct me if I am wrong and thank you for your assistance.

    Please correct me if I am wrong

    • Lori says:

      I think it’s possible that an AHJ could interpret the code to require the re-set between 34″ and 48″, but with that said, I haven’t seen that happen yet.

  8. Craig Luhr says:


    This is an airport project in the Middle East. We have nearly 3000 delayed egress openings. I am also, questioning the client as to the operation procedures. Do they really want to have to send a person with a ladder to reset the device each time someone tries to use the door and sets the alarm? I think this will become an operations procedure issue for the end user.
    I am often disappointed with the lack of clarity or a firm stand regarding codes and standards. IBC seems to take a more firm stand then NFPA. Too much pandering to the manufacturers of obsolete products.
    Sorry for the rant. Thanks again for your assistance. I appreciate finding you as a source to clarify ambiguities.

    • Lori says:

      I’m a member of the BHMA Codes & Government Affairs Committee and we’ve been submitting proposals to try to address as many of the door-related ambiguities as possible. It just takes a long time to get through the cycle, and this one (delayed egress) has not come up before. I agree that it could be a problem for them functionally, and also – if there is no latch on the door the delay could be actuated from either side which is probably not ideal.

  9. Craig Luhr says:


    I am surprised this has not become an issue before. For me it is common as I work for the worlds largest airport construction company. We build airports. While Life Safety is my primary concern, I also have to look at the difficult task of providing security to an Airport that will handle 30 million passengers or more per year. Delayed-egress hardware solves many of these issues and is the best choice. As you know, we have to secure the outside of the building where the planes are while trying to meet free egress requirements. We have doors above 2400mm(8ft)in height with delayed egress. Using a ladder to reach the re-set key switch on a maglock seems archaic to me and unnecessary. Again, the specs called for mag locks, wall mounted key switch boxes are clashing with glass and stone cladded walls. I just was hoping to find a clear answer regarding ALL heights for key switches, etc. As you know, cost is always an issue. I need to present concrete evidence such as a applicable code to support any change of the specification.

    Thank you again.

  10. Matt Jones - HSJ says:

    Lori and to the above contributors, I am being asked the same question about an airport that I am working on currently. We were granted a CO, but, the AHJ is asking me for proof that airports is Occ. A-3 are able to utilize delayed egress exit devices x fail safe electrified trim – we are permitted under 2006 IBC and I am scratching my head a little here as I have spec’d security and door hardware on dozens of airports and never once been called on this issue. Does anyone have any additional information on this situation since Mr. Luhr’s last post? To me this makes no sense, as the trim is fail safe, the building is sprinkled, and the delay drops for immediate egress on fire alarm??? Any help here would be much appreciated from others that have run into this with the AHJs in their jurisdictions.

    – Thank you all!

    • Lori says:

      Hi Matt –

      The fail-safe trim should not be a problem…there is nothing in the codes that would prevent the use of that. However, delayed egress locks are prohibited by the IBC on Assembly occupancies (they are only prohibited on the main entrance/exit in Assembly occupancies per NFPA 101). There isn’t an exception in the IBC for the A-3 occupancy you mentioned. I have talked about this with an architect who works directly for an international airport in the US. He said that the Department of Homeland Security’s requirements conflict with the IBC, so each time he uses delayed egress on a door serving an Assembly occupancy he has to request a variance from their local AHJ. The AHJ has not denied any of the requests as far as I know, but they require the paperwork.

      – Lori

  11. Danny says:

    My question concern is if we must have delayed egress on main entrance doors in a Behavioral Health setting. We currently have them in place however there is some question if they can be removed due to us being classified as a I2.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Danny –

      There isn’t a model code requirement stating that you MUST have delayed egress on the main entrance, but there may be facility standards or some other requirement that is driving the use of a delayed egress lock. The question is…what do you want to use instead?

      – Lori

      • Danny says:

        I want to remove the delayed egress and keep the mags in place with key switch so that they drop when someone enters/exits doors and of course drop on fire. With this population the delayed egress makes if more accessible for the patients to escape once they find out how doors operate.

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