Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Email:, Blog: or

May 09 2012

Indoor Playground

Category: Doors Gone Wrong,EgressLori @ 11:37 pm Comments (19)

I realize that I’m probably pickier than most when it comes to doors.  I notice things that almost nobody else does (except some of you!).  Well, I recently attended a preschool function at a local indoor playground, and I was shocked by what I saw.  The facility is relatively new and must have been inspected when it was renovated.  The place is huge, and meant for zillions of kids and their parents to play indoors – therefore, it’s an Assembly occupancy.

There were 3 marked exits from the space, 2 are pictured below (one with a knob, one blocked by a fence and miscellaneous stuff).  The 3rd was outswinging but had a lockset on it instead of panic hardware.  Adjacent to the main playroom there was a party room, and between the two rooms was a vestibule with 2 pairs of doors.  After investigating I realized that this space had been some sort of lab previously, and the vestibule led to what used to be a clean room.  The pairs of doors were equipped with Bommer 3029 double-acting spring hinges, AKA “Cat Killers.”  Although those hinges have their place, I can’t imagine a worse application to have in a kids play space / party room.  Every time a kid went near the doors my pulse rate increased.  I predict that somebody will lose a finger, or worse.  🙁

UPDATE:  In talking about this situation with some of my code official pals, they urged me to contact the local fire marshal.  I had already contacted the business owners but did not hear back, so I sent an email to the fire chief.  I don’t like to get anyone in trouble (and risk their wrath!) but what if something happened that I could have prevented?  The chief told me that an inspection had been done before the business opened, and the exit path and hardware issues had been addressed with the business owner.  Apparently, the business owner did not make the necessary changes before opening the facility.  The fire inspector is going to follow up with a visit.


19 Responses to “Indoor Playground”

  1. Bill says:

    I agree with you about the “cat killers”, but they are installed properly. When this building usage was changed it should have been brought up to code. Both doors, under the “Exit” signs, had knobs. I fault the people who re-designed the facility for the current use for not picking this up and more so the person who did the inspection.

  2. Jim says:

    Have you reported this to the AHJ? This is totally not safe for adults, let alone children. You were right about the large number of children this space could hold, and in a panic situation, it would be a VERY VERY BAD SITUATION!!!

  3. Cda says:

    You did not count the overhead door as an exit!!

    1. Is the second picture a double swing door??? Do not know why the I codes did not out law double swing

    2 is the last picture door even openable?? Looks like a seal or something on the Door knob side edge of the door

    I wish your children would stop putting you in dangerous situations

    • Lori says:

      1. Yes – the 2nd and 3rd photos are two pairs of double-acting doors creating a vestibule from when the space was a clean room. The doors are SO HAZARDOUS. You can’t see if there’s a little kid on the other side, and the doors flap back and forth with a lot of force. I’m still amazed that the business owners would keep the doors to save a few bucks and risk the liability.

      2. I didn’t try the door but I assume (I know…never assume) that the seal is just weatherstrip and that the door is operable.

      3. I know! And they don’t even appreciate the risks I take for them! They just think I’m weird because I care about this stuff. Maybe I am weird. Do you think so?

  4. cda says:

    3. I know! And they don’t even appreciate the risks I take for them! They just think I’m weird because I care about this stuff. Maybe I am weird. Do you think so?

    no, and if I thought so would not say, have not checked with your state to see if you have a concealed carry permit!!!!!!!!!

    • Lori says:

      I don’t own a gun so you can be honest. I won’t shoot you, although I may post an unflattering photo of you on iDigHardware. 😀

  5. Nolan thrope says:

    You are the Ralph Nader and Geraldo Rivera of door hardware, all rolled into one. You should be on TV

    • Lori says:

      HAHAHAHA!!! I’m going to have to start my own network…I don’t think the major networks will take on a door fail exposé show. I am actually working on a series of short videos so maybe Oprah will add me to her line-up. I could save the OWN!

  6. Terry Crump says:

    Is this located within the city limits? or is it possibly in an unincorporated part of a county? If it’s out in the county, it may not be clear who the AHJ is. And IF it’s in the city limits, then the AHJ should never have granted a certificate of occupancy.
    Either way, the owner of the business should take it upon himself to ‘make it right’.

    • Lori says:

      It is within the city limits – I think it’s actually a town, but we don’t seem to have the same city/county situation here in Massachusetts that a lot of states have. I haven’t run into a town in Mass yet that didn’t have at least a part-time building inspector and some sort of fire official. In some other states it seems like the cities have adopted codes and once you get outside the city limits it’s a free-for-all.

  7. Jack Ostergaard says:

    My take on this is that the Owners took an unoccupied space and slapped some brightly colored paint on the walls, and installed the play equipment. Didn’t make any alterations to the space thus no building permit thus no inspections. No acknowledgement of the change of occupancy from Business to Assembly. The Clean Room signage and the “standard” brown doors were my first clue. The dirt pattern on the floor tiles is the second. How does this get covered? Is there a Life Safety inspection for a new business?

    • Lori says:

      That’s a really good question. I will ask the Building Codes Forum and see what the AHJs have to say.

  8. Cda says:

    Nah she would not approve of the vault door geraldo opened

  9. Chuck Park says:

    Lori, we don’t think you’re weird.
    Because if this stuff makes you weird, then all of us who follow your blog are weird too.

    We’re not weird, right?

  10. Brad Keyes says:

    I think you’re weird… you’re right, but you’re weird.

  11. Standing up for Life Safety - A.G. Wilson Building SolutionsA.G. Wilson Building Solutions says:

    […] door & hardware professional was in a similar situation while visiting an indoor playground.  Here is her story. This entry was posted in Just Talk. Bookmark the permalink. ← A40 vs […]

Leave a Reply