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Aug 08 2017

WWYD? Courtyard Doors

Category: Egress,WWYD?Lori @ 12:20 am Comments (8)

Rene Solivan of Allegion sent me this photo recently.  This pair of doors leads to a courtyard within a school.  We all know about the security problems associated with a school courtyard, when free egress is required from the courtyard back into the school.

In this school it appears that by preventing access to the courtyard, the school is not required to provide free egress from the courtyard.  This is typically allowed only for small “landscape slots,” where the exterior space is used only for light and plants, with no room for occupants.  This courtyard could hold 200-300 people, and judging by the grill, the space is used.  There may be doors from classrooms or other corridor locations that allow access to the courtyard, but do not allow free egress.

WWYD?  Is this situation acceptable?  If yes, what’s the justification?  If no, what needs to change?

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8 Responses to “WWYD? Courtyard Doors”

  1. Cda says:

    If these were the only doors to the area, and control to the area is monitored, I would not have a problem.

    I would just make sure who allows access and maybe when.

    If there is other access points, than those would have to be looked at, in the same manor.

  2. Jack Ostergaard says:

    If there is no exit from the courtyard then it can’t be an exit and should not have exit hardware or exit signs. The real issue here it the reverse – The if the courtyard can hold 200+ people then exiting needs to be provided – the exit hardware needs to be reversed – push bar on the exterior. This solves the locking issue but can be a problem since the push side isn’t exactly designed for exterior use – the designer needs to provide a covered “entry”.

  3. John Dalrymple says:

    It is not acceptable. There is no provision in this occupancy for chained exit doors.

    The doors should be made to swing into the school from the courtyard and special locking arrangement hardware installed on the doors to prevent unauthorized access to the school from the courtyard. The special locking must be supervised by the fire alarm system so that in an emergency (fire, power failure, seismic event, etc.) the occupants of the courtyard have unimpeded exit access through the school (probably only one intervening room is permissible) and thence to the public way.

  4. Daniel Poehler says:

    Inform the local fire Marshall and AHJ as this situation is not acceptable.

  5. Bruno Côté says:

    Thanks for IDigHardware, it has become my goto site for educating myself about these complex issues. Seems like this week you are covering many issues that I have come across recently 🙂

    In this case, I have treated in the past the school’s courtyard as an assembly area. So for over 100 people, need two exits, free egress, swing in direction of egress, panic hardware and travel distance.

    As an interim measure, when I could not immediately comply with the above, I have posted the capacity to 60 people max, which adresses most code issues except travel distance.

    Makes sense ??

    Note that I work to a different set of standards, not NFPA 101 or IBC … actual numbers may vary.

  6. Patrick Jones says:

    I personally feel this is acceptable, if they truly restricting all access to the courtyard and there isn’t another relevant fact we are missing here. There is probably a better way to do it, as now the maintenance guy can unintentionally get locked in the courtyard (or intentionally?)

    School staff are probably trying to make the best of the situation, where they are in a building that is maybe 50 years old and wasn’t designed with modern security concerns in mind.

  7. Chuck Park says:

    I wonder if there is an exit sign above those doors?

  8. Richard McKie says:

    There shouldn’t be an exit sign as, if the courtyard is enclosed it is not an exit or egress route.
    We have courtyards in many of our schools and have had the problem of people going over the roof and breaking in through the courtyard. It is actually more common for teens to climb up on the roof then drop down into the courtyard seeking an easy exit then finding locked doors barring their escape. This leads to broken windows and burglar alarms. On one school where this was a common problem we installed call buttons in the courtyard so that they could call for rescue. Our courtyards are generally locked from the school side. They certainly don’t have panic bars leading into the courtyards.

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