Panic Protector

I recently received this photo of a door in a hospital with the question, “What does the code prescribe for lock/panic protectors on fire-rated and non-rated doors?”

I know some of you will point out that the exit device is not fire-rated (evident because of the dogging hole), and others will note that the glass kit has been cut around the exit device (that’s what glass bead kits are for!) which is also a problem on a rated door.  Let’s just ignore the other issues for a minute and focus on the panic protector – could it be used on a fire-rated door?

That’s a great question, and I didn’t know the answer.  Luckily I have “People.”

I checked with one of our local hospital hardware experts, Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products.  He said that he was told by someone from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that as long as the protector was fastened at the lock/panic location, and therefore attached to the reinforcing for the hardware, he would consider it acceptable.

I asked Jim Donlan of Steelcraft what the UL procedure says about lock and panic protectors and he referred my question to UL.  The answer from UL was that there are no lock or panic protectors that are UL listed or classified, and that the AHJ would need to accept the product use.  Products made of steel or stainless steel should not affect the flammability of the door, but the use of the product and the means of installation should be cleared with the code official before installation.

So assuming that the door in the photo is fire-rated, I would say that because of the location of the protector, the material (wood?), and the fact that it’s anchored through the center of the door where it’s doubtful that there’s any reinforcement, it’s highly unlikely that it would be allowed by the code official.  If the door was not fire-rated, I don’t see a code issue with using a protector, as long as it didn’t inhibit the use of the hardware.

If you have had experience with this, please leave a comment (click here and scroll down).  This feedback is especially helpful for issues that aren’t specifically addressed by the codes.

Photo contributed by Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd.

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