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Mar 19 2018

QQ: Panic Hardware and Mag-Locks

There is a clarification in the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) that helps to answer the following questions:

On a door that is be required to have panic hardware, is it acceptable to install an electromagnetic lock INSTEAD of panic hardware since the mag-lock does not latch?

Do the model codes prohibit the installation of a mag-lock in addition to panic hardware since an additional locking device is not allowed on doors with panic hardware?

If a door has panic hardware and a mag-lock, can either a sensor or door-mounted hardware be used to release the mag-lock for egress?

I have written about these topics in the past, but I always like to have some prescriptive code language to point to rather than saying, “because I said so.”  The BHMA Codes & Government Affairs Committee gathers ideas from its members (including me) and from others who have run into door-related code requirements that are difficult to interpret.  We then submit code change proposals and nurture them through the code development process.

In the 2018 edition of the IBC, Section 1010.1.10 addresses panic hardware and fire exit hardware.  The sections that cover mag-locks are 1010.1.9.9 (sensor release) and 1010.1.9.10 (door hardware release).  Although the 2015 edition of the IBC does include a reference in the panic hardware section to one of the sections addressing mag-locks, it wasn’t clear whether this meant that the mag-lock section could be used instead of panic hardware, or whether the other mag-lock application was prohibited on doors with panic hardware because it was not specifically referenced.

Here is the paragraph that has been added to the 2018 IBC:

1010.1.10 – Exception 2:  Doors provided with panic hardware or fire exit hardware and serving a Group A or E occupancy shall be permitted to be electrically locked in accordance with Section 1010.1.9.9 or 1010.1.9.10.

This clarifies that:

a) Panic hardware is still required for doors which lock or latch when serving assembly or educational occupancies with an occupant load of 50 people or more.  The reason I say this is because the new language says, “Doors PROVIDED with panic hardware…”

b) Because both of the sections that typically apply to mag-locks are referenced in the new language, the doors with panic hardware can also have mag-locks which are released by EITHER the sensor OR the door-mounted hardware, as long as all of the criteria of the applicable section are met.

For more information about the code requirements that apply to mag-locks and panic hardware, check out these videos:


Any questions?

6 Responses to “QQ: Panic Hardware and Mag-Locks”

  1. cda says:

    3.Operation of the door hardware directly interrupts the power to the electric lock and unlocks the door immediately.

    So can this be my “touch bar”???

    And with all the modern technology, the code still has a push button release???

    Anyway, just a pet peeve.

  2. Dan Poehler says:

    I not a hardware consultant so I’m trying to understand why in the world you would ever need both a maglock and a panic device on the same door. Please describe a scenario that would call for this.

    • Lori says:

      Hi Dan –

      It’s definitely not my preference, but it is done. Maybe people think the mag-lock provides extra security, or it’s easier to add access control using a mag-lock. The question I was most interested in getting an answer to was whether it’s acceptable to use a mag-lock instead of panic hardware (no). This was not uncommon back in the BOCA days – I think BOCA may have said panic hardware was required for doors that latch, not “lock or latch”. On one of my old projects, the architect wanted mag-locks instead of panics on an auditorium, but the AHJ vetoed that idea. The IBC is just catching up to the most common interpretation in the field.

      Maybe someone will have other ideas about why a mag-lock might be installed along with panic hardware.

      – Lori

      • les eaton says:

        Hi Lori

        Can I use an exit device with a REX and a maglock on a class A occupancy exterior door. I know that in reading the IBC, it is a little clearer, but the NBC does not mention exit devices allowing release, just that the maglock must not have latches or pins


  3. David Federico S.H.C says:

    Positive latching is still the criteria for most doors in this application. All other hardware is just for access control .

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