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Jun 21 2017

WW: (Don’t-)Pull Station

Category: Wordless WednesdayLori @ 12:39 am Comments (9)

Leo Lebovits of M&D Door & Hardware sent me this Wordless Wednesday photo taken in an assembly occupancy.  I’m not an expert on pull stations, but this just doesn’t look right to me…

Jun 20 2017

Code Requirements for Electromagnetic Locks

Category: Electrified HardwareLori @ 12:03 am Comments (5)

I’m working on another whiteboard animation video to help explain the different code sections that apply to mag-locks.  These sections have often been misinterpreted in the past.  The draft of the script for this video is below, and I’d love some feedback.  Did I forget anything? 

Decoded: Code Requirements for Electromagnetic Locks [Draft Script]

An electromagnetic lock is essentially an electromagnet in a housing that is mounted on the door frame, and a steel armature mounted on the door. When the magnet is energized, it bonds to the armature and locks the door. To allow access or egress, a switch must be provided to de-energize the magnet.

There are two sets of requirements included in the model codes that are typically applied to electromagnetic locks.  These sections address two different applications, so for each mag-lock installation, one set of requirements must be followed (not both).

The two applications addressed by the model codes are:

  • An electrified lock released by a sensor that detects an occupant approaching the door and unlocks the door, or
  • An electrified lock released by door-mounted hardware that incorporates a switch to immediately release the lock for egress.

In the International Building Code, the sections that apply to these applications are:

  • Sensor Release of Electromagnetically Locked Egress Doors – prior to the 2015 edition of the IBC, this section was called Access-Controlled Egress Doors. The title was changed in order to avoid confusion about whether this section was intended to apply to all doors with access control readers (that is not the intent).
  • Electromagnetically Locked Egress Doors – beginning with the 2018 edition of the IBC, this section will be called Door Hardware Release of Electrically Locked Egress Doors to be consistent with the sensor-release section.

NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, has slightly different titles for these sections, but the requirements are similar:

  • Access-Controlled Egress Doors for electrified locks released by a sensor
  • Electrically Controlled Egress Door Assemblies for electrified locks released by door-mounted hardware incorporating a switch

According to the IBC and NFPA 101, an electrified lock released by a sensor mounted on the egress side to detect an approaching occupant must also be unlocked in the direction of egress by the following:

  • Loss of power to the sensor
  • Loss of power to the lock or locking system
  • Activation of the building fire alarm or automatic sprinkler system, where provided, and the door must remain unlocked until the fire protection system has been reset.
  • A manual unlocking device (typically a push button) that is located 40 to 48 inches above the floor and within 5 feet of the door. Ready access must be provided to the push button, and the button must be marked “Push to Exit.”  Pushing the button must directly interrupt power to the lock, independent of the other electronics, and the door must remain unlocked for at least 30 seconds.

The model codes include the following requirements for an electrified lock released by door-mounted hardware that incorporates a built-in switch:

  • The hardware mounted on the door must have an obvious method of operation and must be readily operated with one hand and under all lighting conditions.
  • Operation of the hardware must directly interrupt the power to the lock, and the door must unlock immediately.
  • The door must also unlock upon loss of power to the locking system.
  • If panic hardware is required, operation of the panic hardware or fire exit hardware must release the lock.
  • Note that this section does not require the door to unlock upon activation of the fire protection system.

Both of these types of electrified locks – those released by a sensor and those released by door-mounted hardware, must be allowed by the use group or occupancy classification; they are not allowed in every type of building.  Refer to the applicable code for the list of occupancy types where these locks are acceptable, along with specific requirements regarding emergency lighting and the activation of manual fire alarm boxes.  Some editions of the model codes also require the door locking system units to be listed in accordance with UL 294 – Standard for Access Control System Units.

There has been a lot of confusion about where and when to apply these code sections.  Note that they only apply to electrified locks released by a sensor, and electrified locks released by door-mounted hardware.  Electromechanical locks that allow free and immediate egress by turning a lever or pushing the touchpad of the panic hardware, are not required to comply with these two model code sections.  There are additional sections that apply to delayed egress locks, controlled egress locks in health care facilities, stairwell reentry, and fail-safe locks on elevator lobby doors (NFPA 101 only).

States and local jurisdictions may modify the model codes, so it’s important to check the codes that have been adopted in a project’s location to verify whether these requirements apply.  The Authority Having Jurisdiction (the AHJ) can be consulted for more information.

Jun 19 2017

Grenfell Tower Fire, London

Category: FDAI,Fire Doors,NewsLori @ 12:44 am Comments (4)

By now everyone has heard about this fire in a high-rise residential building in London, which has likely resulted in the deaths of 58 people (combined total of those confirmed dead and still missing) and dozens of people injured.  The fire, which spread quickly up the outside of the building, has left people questioning whether the “shelter in place” strategy is the safest plan during a fire.

While the exterior cladding on the building is being investigated for its contribution to the blaze, there are also news reports where witnesses are quoted as saying that the door leading to the apartment of fire origin was left open.  This undoubtedly impacted the egress routes that could have enabled residents to escape from the burning building.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again (and again, and again)…fire doors between dwelling units and egress corridors must be self-closing and self-latching in order to help prevent a tragedy like this one.  Considering the frequency of residential fires and the number of times an open apartment door has led to fire spread and fatalities, I can’t imagine why the requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors is not being enforced for multi-family buildings in most jurisdictions.


Eight failures that left people of Grenfell Tower at mercy of the inferno – The Telegraph

A litany of failings in building regulation and safety rules have left residents in tower blocks vulnerable for decades. Despite constant warnings from fire experts, nothing was done to improve fire-proofing standards, or even review the current situation. Here are the eight times that the victims of Grenfell Tower were let down.


Grenfell Tower fire caused by faulty fridge on fourth floor, reports suggest – The Independent

Maryann Adam, 41, lived next door to Mr Kebede at number 14. She said her neighbour had woken her up to warn her about the fire. 

“He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat,” she told MailOnline. “It was exactly 12.50am because I was sleeping and it woke me up. 

“The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.”


Stay put? Deadly London fire puts scrutiny on high-rise rule – ABC News

Many residents were trapped, forcing some on higher floors to jump to their deaths rather than face the flames or throw their children to bystanders below. By Saturday, officials counted 58 people missing and presumed dead, including 30 deaths previously confirmed.

Despite that outcome, fire experts say “stay put” is still the best advice — as long as the building has proper fire-suppression protections, such as multiple stairwells, sprinkler systems, fireproof doors and flame-resistant construction materials, some of which were lacking in the London blaze.


Graphic:  The Telegraph

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