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Jan 26 2018

FF: Special Knowledge?

Category: Egress,Fixed-it FridayLori @ 12:44 am Comments (25)

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photo was sent to me by Steve Cano of HDR Inc.  The door is serving a large warehouse-type retail store.  Looking at the signage, the unfamiliar locks, and the exposed wiring, I wondered if the average person would instinctively know how to exit, or whether an AHJ might think this opening requires “special knowledge” – which is not allowed by the model codes for egress doors.

What do you think?

25 Responses to “FF: Special Knowledge?”

  1. Cda says:

    Looks like a wall mart set up

  2. John Payson says:

    I wonder if delayed-egress devices could be improved by having an automated voice announcement cycling through a variety of languages that the door will open in N seconds [with N decreasing as the messages cycle] so as to reduce the “special knowledge” requirement.

  3. Joe Hendry says:

    During a physical security assessment, I would probably contact the AHJ to inspect this door. It appears to require “special knowledge” to open, especially during a fire. Smoke could obscure the door and I don’t believe the average person could instinctively open the door.

  4. JP says:

    I’m impressed by that wiring…ALLLLL of that wiring. But hey! They didn’t block the exit per se.

  5. MartinB (aka lauxmyth) says:

    Question: What are the grey boxes at the top projecting off the doors? Doubt they are magnetic locks since the ratio is wrong. Seem a bit big for door position switches (DPS). I am guessing a secondary timed lock which gives the delay time and the vertical rods are just mechanical and release when pushed. If I am correct, they have to act under power only so cutting those wires would open it up.

  6. Blake Nelson says:

    Even tho it’s amazingly cheap & ugly looking, the special knowledge & signage may pass. But no way on the wiring mess! If I was the AHJ, I Would press the ends of those floppy looking paddles to make sure the hardware still releases no matter where it’s depressed. That would determine a lot. It looks like they’re covering half of each door width.

  7. Carl says:

    The lock appears to be a modified Positive Lock model THPA. It’s the only one I have seen mounted vertical. I have no idea why the numbered the doors which can cause a lot of confusion, they seem to operate independently.

  8. ADAguy says:


    1. Door lacks compliant lever/panic hardware
    2. exit lacks illuminated exit signage
    3. Delayed exiting signage is not compliant

  9. Raymond Holman, AHC says:

    Just a guess but I don’t think those “bottom” rods are ADA compliant. And I’m curious about the numbering. Reporting to a panel?

  10. Clair E Gunnet Jr AHC says:

    Special Knowledge seems to be required. Do you push 1 first before you push 2? Do you have to push on the “mullion” in the middle to exit? Too confusing.

  11. Jim Elder says:

    This is a legitimate UL Listed device made by Positive Lock Company. very badly installed, but legal (assuming it is installed on a code-compliant door. It is is specifically designed for intrusive entry resistance.

  12. Robert says:

    I would probably contact the AHJ to inspect this door. It appears to require “special knowledge” to open, especially during a fire. yes this would be a door that needs attention if tested as the push bar is not to code. can you see this as well?? it’s one of the reasons the older 88 VD are not used now. but saying that we in Canada might see it different.

  13. Rich says:

    I agree with CDA. Typical Wal Mart / Sams Club delayed egress bars although I have never seen them mounted vertically. I used to contract repair these devices in the Midwest for stores within 50 miles. The “flag/instruction sign” should not be hanging open ended. Many years ago I worked in an area where the AHJ would not allow any device such as the Alarm Lock model 11 without the extension bar all the way across the door. He would not allow an open end that could catch Clothing and fire hoses. He was ahead of his time as this was more than 30 years ago before we looked at codes very much. This particular pictured door appears to have had the devices horizontal at some time in the past as you can see the holes in the frame. I would bet that a previous mullion had the holes as well. These doors seem to have had a rough life. Notice the studs or through bolts along the hinge edges that I would bet are holding the doors together. They probably changed the devices to vertical because the skins were slipping and you could just twist the doors all out of shape. We have mig welded many doors edges back together to stop the slipping. But of course, never on a fire rated door.

  14. Daniel Poehler says:

    I too got to looking at all that wiring, JP. Seems to me that the wires extending across the doors that feed the vertical lock bar, would be an obstacle if the emergency exit feature was ever used. I can see the egressing occupants being clotheslined by those wires.

  15. Pete Schifferli says:

    Interesting that the door apparently has a mullion, but also vertical rod devices and mag locks!

  16. Liane says:

    You can read all the signs and figure out the right thing while you wait 15 seconds. Assuming you pushed the bar.

  17. Richard McKie says:

    Strange, but very impressive! Certainly not ADA compliant.
    Is that commercially made hardware or was it fabbed up locally.
    If they had spent some time installing conduit and junction boxes it would look
    much more professional. It may just be my eyes on a Friday afternoon but
    the right hand unit looks out of plumb. Somebody was in a hurry or working
    to a low bid!

  18. Joel Niemi says:

    Actuator bars are in the right place, check.

    Surface wiring means either “we didn’t plan ahead”, “our contractor(s) didn’t follow the drawings”, “we added all of this later”, or “folks, our cheapo approach to wiring means we can pass the savings on to you shoppers”.

    Surface-applied nature of the latching / security gear does not follow barrier-free requirements for the bottom 10″ of door to be smooth and flush. If you can’t do a surface mounted bottom rod, you can’t do these.

    But at least the retail operators can read “Do not block”

  19. BryanMcKeehan says:

    Those are Sam Walton’s uncle’s brother’s nephew’s exit devices from the town next to Bentonville. I seriously believe that. They are WalMart exit devices for sure. I’ve installed many of the “rim” type in WalMarts.

  20. Tim Druyor says:

    I’m a little lost, as to how a delayed egress application, is acceptable for a fire exit. Ever a fire, black Friday, in reverse.

  21. DAVID FEDERICO says:

    Apart from the door loops and battery eliminator the only thing I see here is the push paddles should be larger . Is this an Alarm Lock or Securitech Device . ? Other than the intimidating looks (that these devices have ) usually to caution the curious from attempting to use the doors it looks as though it would have passed . However the signage could have also been larger b2uw

  22. Mark Lineberger says:

    I’m not sure there’s so much a special knowledge issue. Without doubt there is a signage issue. The delayed egress signage conflicts with the push bar signage. That should be enough for any AHJ. The rest makes it even better…

  23. Glenn Younger says:

    As Joel Niemi mentioned “security gear does not follow barrier-free requirements for the bottom 10″ of door to be smooth and flush” The barrier free code requirements absolutely knock these out of compliance. A hot mess is so many ways.
    I get that they are trying to offer a more secure solution, and many of the exit devices available today do a poor job of securing the door, but this brand is a the absolute bottom end of what is even legal for an exit bar. Then when they double them up, and mount vertical, it exposes the companies (both WalMart and Positive Lock) for the low standards that they allow. Which I find interesting since their video systems are pretty state of the art.

  24. Louise says:

    I feel like a blind person would have better luck figuring out how to exit.
    No confusing hardware to see.
    No confusing signage.
    Find the push-bar, push, hear the alarm, know the door will open in “x” seconds.

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