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May 24 2016

WWYD? Animal Research Facility

Category: Egress,WWYD?Lori @ 12:11 am Comments (9)

Animal LabLast week, I was asked how I would handle the hardware for an animal research lab, where animals (particularly primates) may need to be prevented from eloping.  I have written several specifications for projects of this type, and I don’t know of any codes or standards that would specify what type of hardware should be used.

On one of my projects – the brain and cognitive science center for a university, the doors to the rooms housing a certain type of study could not be equipped with latching hardware because the sound of the latch would wake up the mice and affect the research.  On another project there were concerns that a primate could operate the hardware on the doors if it somehow got out of its cage.  In some labs, high humidity and corrosive chemicals could impact the hardware, and for many labs security is an issue because of sensitive research and the threat of intruders who don’t believe that animals should be used for testing.

For labs that require doors that restrict egress, it would be up to the code official to determine whether a compromise is acceptable, since the model codes don’t include prescriptive exceptions for egress in these facilities.  Because the human occupants of research labs are staff members rather than the general public, they are considered “trained traffic,” (does anyone use that term these days?) and it may be safe to use controlled egress hardware or a security interlock, for example.  But each project would require approval from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

There are many ways to secure lab doors to prevent access, but when designing an access control system it’s important to take into account what will occur when there is a power failure or a fire alarm, and how the door will be unlocked from within the facility.  This will affect the type of hardware that is selected – for example, an architect for one of my projects wanted to use electromagnetic locks that would be released by a motion sensor on the egress side, but these doors would be unlocked during a fire alarm, a power failure, and whenever someone stepped into the detection zone of the motion sensor.  This was unacceptable considering the level of security required for the facility.

Concerns about corrosion and requirements for quiet operation can also be addressed by selecting the correct hardware.  The most difficult part for me has been getting enough information to determine what hardware should be used.  Communication from the researchers to the architect to the hardware consultant may not occur until the hardware has been installed and there is a problem – often a very expensive problem.

If you have worked on animal research projects, I’d love to hear about your experience with regard to egress, security, base metals, hardware types, etc.  WWYD?

Photo: Kabanova

9 Responses to “WWYD? Animal Research Facility”

  1. bruce young says:

    Lori – good morning. this is a subject that I had a lot of experience with. I was the primary hardware consultant for National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. They had many labs and many animal holding rooms. Over about a 7 year period we developed what they considered the perfect entry door for the animal holding rooms. I have been able to find the typical set for the doors except the primate doors which I believe we either tried a drop ring fixture for the inside lever or some type of lever protection that the primates could not figure out how to get around to operate the lever. The hinge was a HG315 Markar, Schlage L9080 x lll x 06A , VD 6211 strike, LCN 4041 DEL CUSH , 600A door sweep and jamb guards by Life Science to protect corridor side frames from being hit by carts entering to rooms. All doors swing into rooms.
    The doors were 4/0 x 8/0 and we were using a special door developed by Special Lite for NIH “SL-17 mod” that filled stiles and rails with the same foam as the core and also sealed all seams with a silicone product that would prevent vermin and insects from making nests inside the doors.
    In over 15 years my firm and the following rep for Special Lite have sold over 5000 doors for both new construction and door replacements. It was by far my best “gig” of my career.

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Bruce! I hope you’re doing well!

      – Lori

    • rb says:

      Can I ask a dumb question: I can’t quite parse the lock designation. L9080 is a storeroom lock that always permits free egress, and I don’t know what the III designation is. The VD 6211 is an electric strike. How does this prevent primates from eloping?

  2. David says:

    NIH has it all over the Bethesda MD campus.

  3. Joel Niemi says:

    should get you to the state of canine research on this topic

    • Lori says:

      I’m almost positive my teacher, Bob Jutzi, used that cartoon in hardware school back in the good old days. 😀

      – Lori

  4. Tom Breese says:

    Well, I was gonna write about what I’d used for a major university research facility, but I like Bruce’s better. We did use a lot of electronic security — perimeter monitoring, access control, CCTV, security interlocks — but not the Special Lite doors (great product / free plug), and primates were not housed in this facility (mice, rabbits, swine, and horses).

  5. Daniel Poehler says:

    Large primates would require a much more robust lock than typical store bought stuff. It would need to be customized. The set Bruce mentioned would be acceptable for typical vivariums and small primates. If the facility is dealing with more dangerous pathogens and designed as a (BSL-3AG, BSL-4AG), you would then be required to go into much greater detail. Additional code requirements come in to play, for example, the BMBL and the Patriot Act. These facilities are different from anything most of you have ever seen or can imagine. The technology is ever changing, based on recent discoveries with limited historical protocol. The operational requirements are layered for life safety and the safety of the animals since millions of dollars are usually tied into the research that they represent. Complexity is unavoidable. This is all I can say.

  6. MartinB (aka lauxmyth) says:

    Aside from infection control, how is this all that different from a zoo enclosure? After all keepers must enter the area once the animals are isolated for cleaning and maintenance. From what I have read, the big apes have good hand strength and are good escape artists.

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