Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Dec 18 2013

WW: Overlapping Astragal

Last week on The Building Code Forum, one of the members mentioned that their local police department recommended the installation of overlapping astragals on the exterior pairs at their schools.  This left me WORDLESS!  It definitely feels like 2 steps forward – 1 step back some days.

Overlapping Astragal

This photo, from George Cutler of Quarters Hardware, illustrates the problem (this astragal is installed on the interior, but it would cause the same problem mounted on the exterior).  Most exterior pairs on schools will have either rim panic hardware with a removable mullion, or vertical rod panics.  Installing an overlapping astragal means that one of the doors will not open without first opening the other door.  This is not acceptable for doors in a means of egress…does anyone know where this is stated (this is a quiz)?

In addition, the astragal can actually have a negative effect on security if a coordinator is not installed to ensure that the door leaves close in the correct order.  Otherwise, the astragal can prevent one door from closing properly.  Here is some more information on astragals on egress doors, and astragals on fire doors.

15 Responses to “WW: Overlapping Astragal”

  1. Brendan J Daley says:


  2. Darren says:

    And that someone did it. I think they need a chain and a padlock as well!

  3. Chuck says:

    Why is the Police Dept specifying door hardware?!?

  4. Rich says:

    Hooo ray for Barney Fife. And deputy Goober

  5. Jack Ostergaard says:

    I’m guessing that the intent of the request for an astragal was for rim type latch protection. If latch protection plates were used the coordination problem still exists. And in this photo the latches are top and bottom.

    • Lori says:

      The police department wasn’t specific about the hardware…just a general recommendation for an astragal. It would be an egress problem for either rim or vertical rod devices. You could actually use an overlapping astragal with a mortise x vertical rod combo, but that’s not a very common application and you’d need a coordinator.

  6. Richard says:

    NFPA 80 Doors swinging in pairs, where located within a means of egress, shall not be equipped
    with astragals that inhibit the free use of either leaf.

    • Lori says:

      How about if it’s not a fire door?

      • Richard says:

        NFPA 101 (11)Security devices that impede egress are not installed on
        openings, as required by

        • Richard says:

 Where pairs of door leaves are required in a means
          of egress, one of the following criteria shall be met:
          (1) Each leaf of the pair shall be provided with a releasing
          device that does not depend on the release of one leaf
          before the other.
          (2) Approved automatic flush bolts shall be used and arranged
          such that both of the following criteria are met:
          (a) The door leaf equipped with the automatic flush
          bolts shall have no doorknob or surface-mounted
          (b) Unlatching of any leaf shall not require more than
          one operation.

  7. Lee Francisco says:

    2009 NFPA 101
    1) Each leaf of the pair shall be provided with a releasing device that does not depend on the release of one leaf before the other.

  8. Bob says:

    It is amazing, here at U of D Jesuit High school in Detroit, MI our security director formed a Security committee a few years ago. It really became more active after Sandy Hook. A few weeks ago they arranged a Walk through with some of Detroit’s finest DPD. The comments made about locks, doors, windows was somewhat amusing, because I shot down (no pun intended) almost everything they wanted based on building codes regarding emergency egress and security. It is always a fight people, hang in there

  9. Bryan McKeehan says:

    The faith placed in law enforcement is as blind as I believe most law enforcement is. They spout out some of the stupidest stuff. A local agency recommended replacing lever locks with deadbolts because the latchbolts made to much noise when the latch extended into the strikes. This was in a local convent.

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