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Dec 10 2014

WW: Not an Exit (Any More)

This door is in a high school auditorium, and although it no longer seems to be used as an exit (and there are marked exits nearby), it is the first door you see when attempting to exit.  Many AHJs will tell you that if it looks like an exit, it has to act like an exit.

What do you think?  Is this door acceptable?

Auditorium No Exit


Thank you to Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products for today’s Wordless Wednesday photo!

22 Responses to “WW: Not an Exit (Any More)”

  1. Gary Huizen says:

    Absolutely not. The perception is still there, panic hardware and a clear path to the outside. If they don’t want it as an exit anymore, remove the doors and frame and install insulated FRP panels with windows or block it in entirely.

  2. Tyler J. Thomas says:

    I wonder if they even tested to see if it would hold (I can’t imagine it would)? Perhaps just a visual deterrent? Bad news regardless.

  3. Sheldon says:

    Nice weatherstripping.

  4. Cda says:

    So you cannot have doors to the outside, non exit related???

    How about sign ” not an exit”

  5. Curtis Meskus says:

    First determine if the exit capacity is needed, if not the remove the hardware, sign and seal the doors shut permanently, or remove them and install compliant glass lights.

    If it is part of the required exit capacity, then make it a compliant exit and use the correct weatherstripping.

  6. Cda says:

    ” not an exit “

  7. Joel Niemi says:

    remove doors and closers, install storefront.

  8. Ron Bets says:

    IFC 2009 Section 1011
    Where required. Exits and exit access doors shall be marked by an approved exit sign readily visible from any direction of egress travel.
    The path of egress travel to exits and within exits shall be marked by readily visible exit signs to clearly indicate the direction of egress travel in cases where the exit or the path of egress travel is not immediately visible to the occupant

    Exception 2
    Main exterior exit doors or gates that are obviously and clearly identifiable as exits need not have exit signs where approved by the building AHJ

    Because the doors fall easily under exception 2, either make them work or replace them with suitable building material-if code allows.

  9. John Dalrymple says:

    looks like an exit, smells like an exit, it is an exit…

    • Cda says:

      So a building can never have extra exterior doors?

      Almost any door can look like an exit door.

      • Lori says:

        I think it’s a fine line and not very well defined. We’ve talked about it on the Forum before and could not come to a consensus. It would basically be up to the AHJ to decide whether the door looks too much like an egress door but doesn’t allow egress, creating a problem.

  10. Gerald Austin says:

    I would hazard a guess that this is a required means of egress out of the auditorium based on its occupancy load. It would be rare in my experience to see such an expensive assembly installed if it were not required.

    This reminded me of an incident involving a school years ago. The school administrators did things like this. They also blocked and installed locks on exit doors. They also enclosed the bottom of an exit stair and stored a considerable quantity of combustible materials in their new storage area. When the yearly fire department inspector caught all these things he recorded them as deficiencies and in the case of the storage under the stairs, told them to remove it before the end of the day and seal the enclosure. They could let the construction remain because it prevented further storage and was of material that could be allowed in the stair enclosure.

    The school principal became obstructive and abused the Fire Inspector. He told the inspector that he was NOT going to move the storage and that the recommendation was ridiculous. The inspector told the story of the “Our Lady of Angels” fire where many kids died from a similar situation but to no avail. As they parted company, the inspector once again asked for compliance and the defiant principal told him to get out of his school.

    About 30 minutes later, two uniformed officers and an assistant City Attorney showed up in the school office, put the principal in handcuffs and hauled him down to the City Jail. To add to the embarrassment for the school, the Superintendent was required to come to the jail and post bail as well as endure a very hot lecture on fire safety and his role in it. It was reported that there never was a more co-operative school system in the following years. Sometimes, that is what it takes to raise understanding that these fire rules are mostly from the lessons from the “School of Hard Knocks” delivered by injuries, deaths and serious property losses. Fire features and equipment must be kept in working condition, for as the codes say “in event of an emergency” which cannot be predicted in most cases.

  11. Cda says:

    From 2009 IFC

    1030.5 Nonexit identification. Where a door is adjacent to, constructed similar to and can be confused with a means of egress door, that door shall be identified with an approved sign that identifies the room name or use of the room.

  12. Dan says:

    The fact that the doors have panic hardware would beg me to their usage in the event of an emergency. They damn well better open.

  13. Martin aka Laux Myth says:

    I was once called to open a single glass aluminum door early in the morning. During the night, somebody had sprayed foam insulation into the door margins on all four sides. I quickly found the key turned but hit a ‘rock’ in the MS bolt as it was going nowhere. I pried the foam out from around and below the bolt to get it to drop by turning the key and then assisting it down. At that point the lock was clear but I could not pull the door open.

    When seeing this door, all that tape may very well add up to keeping that door shut even with a good push. Remember, exits should function for a 6 year old and such a child would never open this door in my opinion.

    The child brings back why the code is written as it is. The door looks like an exit whether signed or not and in an emergency that fact will waste time getting a child to try the door. If enough people do the same, our child is now in a crush zone.

    In summary, MAKE IT WORK.
    And Merry Christmas.

  14. John Dalrymple says:

    Bet it takes a lot more than 15 pounds opening force to break the tape seal. The opening is not legal!

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