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Jan 23 2013

Pool Gate Panic Hardware

Category: Gates,Panic HardwareLori @ 4:08 pm Comments (17)

I love hardware ingenuity, especially when it’s code-driven.  I’ve spent this week in Orlando with 500+ of my coworkers, and although we haven’t had a whole lot of time to hang out by the pool, I had to go check out an application that was spotted by one of our specwriters – Matt Wildman.

According to the International Building Code, pool enclosures must be at least 4 feet high, with gates that are self-closing and self-latching.  Gates must swing away from the pool, and the release mechanism on the outside must be at least 54 inches from the bottom of the door or gate to prevent a young child from entering.*  There is an exception to the hardware mounting height requirements – typically a maximum of 48 inches – to allow for the 54-inch location on pool gates.

The hotel where our meeting is being held has two large pool enclosures, and all of the pedestrian gates have panic hardware with the panic device mounted at standard height (approx. 40 inches above the sidewalk).  If a rim panic was used, the lever trim would be mounted at the same height as the panic, so the lever wouldn’t meet the 54-inch requirement.  If the panic hardware was mounted higher on the gate, the panic wouldn’t meet the mounting height requirement for panic hardware (34 -48 inches above the floor).

The gates at this hotel have a special Von Duprin application, which is like a rim panic device for the latching function, with a top rod (no latch) which is controlled by the lever.  The lever is mounted at 54 inches, and by turning the lever it pushes the rod down and retracts the rim latch.  For the Von Duprin experts out there, it’s a 9957 active head with a 9927 top rod, a 374T control with a lever substituted for the turn piece – making it a 374L.  It can be priced and ordered by requesting a 99L x 374L x POOL.  To order you will need to include the hand (LHR or RHR), gate thickness, strike (299 or 1609), finish, and length (3′ or 4′).  An elevation of the gate is helpful too. For exterior applications, weep holes are recommended, as well as more frequent lubrication with Duralube or a similar product (no WD-40 or white lithium unless it is synthetic).  For questions on this special application, you can contact the Exits Technical Support Team.

Yes, that’s a surface bolt below the panic device.  I assume they have permission from the AHJ.  At least it’s locked in the retracted position so it can only be projected by an authorized person.

The closer application is a little less slick.  Got any better ideas?

Check out the pool device in action:

*The IBC includes an exception that states: “Exception: Access doors or gates in barrier walls and fences protecting pools, spas and hot tubs shall be permitted to have operable parts of the release of latch on self-latching devices at 54 inches (1370 mm) maximum above the finished floor or ground, provided the self-latching devices are not also self-locking devices operated by means of a key, electronic opener or integral combination lock.”

This exception is not clear, which has led to variable interpretations from AHJs, but I think what it means is that if the gate has a self-latching, self-locking device which requires a key, code, fob, or other credential to enter, it does not have to be mounted at the 54-inch height.  Until this is clarified, the interpretations will likely continue to be inconsistent.

17 Responses to “Pool Gate Panic Hardware”

  1. Eric Rieckers says:

    Is this type of exit device unique to Von Duprin? As for the closer, the wear marks on the tile indicate an improper installation. ; )

    • Lori says:

      I don’t know if anyone else makes it. It was the first time I had seen anything like it, although our Florida specwriters knew all about it. We don’t have as many outdoor lazy rivers in my neck of the woods.

  2. Chuck Park says:

    Pretty ingenious solution to the problem.

    Looks like they had to add the padlockable surface bolt because you could just reach over the top of the gate and push down on the vertical rod to open the door even if the outside lever is locked.

  3. DoorGuyBryan says:

    I do agree that the closer as installed could be better. How about a track type with bent arm? and special templating, obviously.

  4. Safecrackin Sammy says:

    Nice hardware, horrible installation!

    The closer even if code compliant is obviously an ethical trip hazard and should be changed out. Its probably rubbing the tile as shown in the photos from being stepped on. Spring hinges would suffice here or a floor check could be used.

    D&D Technologies that makes the Magna Latch commonly used on pool gates has a nice new set of closer/hinge combinations that may work well here. Its new, and not a common gate spring type hinge but I havent seen appications in use yet.

    Judging by the 1609 strike projection, the lock stile gap well exceeds the allowable 1/2″ maximum opening. The astragal shown below the exit device should continue above it to close off this area.

    • Matt Wildman says:

      Maybe not on this gate but the other one had spring hinges but they had the spring removed or disengaged somehow. Mr. Jon Dudley who originally pointed out the gate brought that to my attention, as well. I assumed that the gates being 4′ wide where building up quite a force and slamming hard with the two original spring hinges.

  5. Jay Schwarz says:

    why panic hardware? i see nothing in the Code to mandate it…

    • Lori says:

      Hi Jay –

      If it was an indoor pool it would be considered an Assembly occupancy and would require panic hardware if the occupant load was >50 (or >100 per NFPA 101 or the older editions of the IBC). Since this is an outdoor pool, I think the panics just allowed for this special application with the variance in height for the operating hardware on each side of the gate. Panic hardware is also used for durability and ease of operation.

      – Lori

  6. Chris says:

    Lori and Jay:
    I was told by local inspectors that our outdoor pool and terrace and an adjacent fenced-in courtyard on an apartment job in Rockville MD required panic hardware since the occupancy load was greater than 50.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Chris –

      I’ve been seeing that more often – outdoor pools considered Assembly space, and requiring panic hardware for an occupant load of 50 or more.

      – Lori

  7. Glenn Younger says:

    For the door closer; The LCN tech support folks have been great at getting installation templates for gate mounted closers. This is great to get because you can mount on the top rail and be assured that the valves work correctly.

    A pet peeve of mine;
    Use a Cast Aluminum closer (like a LCN 4050)and non-ferrus fasteners in this situation to avoid problems caused by rust. Do NOT use a cast iron closer, yes they are tough, but it is all but impossible to keep them from rusting.

  8. Zac says:

    The code says that a door with more than 50 occupants requires panic hardware, it says nothing about a gate requiring panic hardware.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Zac –

      There are some situations where a gate is part of a means of egress and has to meet the same requirements as a door. Here’s where it says so in the IBC: “1010.2 Gates. Gates serving the means of egress system shall comply with the requirements of this section. Gates used as a component in a means of egress shall conform to the applicable requirements for doors.”

      – Lori

  9. Zac says:

    Thanks Lori, I didn’t read that part carefully enough.

  10. Todd Hansen says:

    Thanks Bob that hardware looks very well thought out and perfect for this application.

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