Happy Halloween!I’d be rich if I had a dime for every time I explained that panic hardware is required for Assembly and Educational occupancies with an occupant load of more than 100 people (per IBC 2000 or 2003, NFPA 101) or more than 50 people (per IBC 2006 or 2009).  Well, maybe I’d just have a bunch of dimes, but I’ve said it lots of times and sometimes people still have a hard time remembering it.  Here’s a true story that will help.

Tonight, I met two of my friends (“regular people,” not “hardware people”) at the local Mexican restaurant for some post-PTO meeting quesadillas.  Apparently this was the first time we’ve ever closed the place (at 10:30), because when we attempted to leave, each of my friends tried unsuccessfully to open the door.

There was a life-size skeleton set up in the vestibule, and it was all decorated with spooky lights for Halloween.  The regular lights were low or off.  The front door had a deadbolt on it, and I flipped the thumbturn so we could get out, but it was interesting watching my friends’ reaction to the locked exit door.  It was unexpected since it has always been push/pull before, so they just kept pushing on it – a typical reaction.  The darkened vestibule added to the confusion.

The IBC does allow deadbolts on certain egress doors, but several requirements must be met:

  • Their use is limited to Assembly occupancies with an occupant load of 300 or less, or Business, Factory, Mercantile, and Storage occupancies, or places of religious worship.
  • The main exterior door is permitted to be equipped with a key-operated locking device
  • The locking device has to indicate whether it is locked or unlocked.
  • Signage is required (see below).
  • The code official can revoke they use of the key-operated lock for due cause.

The restaurant had an occupant load of more than 100 people (triggering the requirement for panic hardware) but less than 300 people.  However, the deadlock was operated with a thumbturn, not a key, there was no indication of whether the door was locked, and no signage.  Not to mention that it was locked while the building was still occupied.  This door should have had panic hardware.  Under different circumstances this could have been a dangerous situation.

Here is the text from the 2009 International Building Code:

1008.1.9.3 Locks and latches. (Previously 1008.1.8.3)

Locks and latches shall be permitted to prevent operation of doors where any of the following exists:
1. Places of detention or restraint.
2. In buildings in occupancy Group A having an occupant load of 300 or less, Groups B, F, M and S, and in places of religious worship, the main exterior door or doors are permitted to be equipped with key-operated locking devices from the egress side provided:
2.1. The locking device is readily distinguishable as locked;
2.2. A readily visible durable sign is posted on the egress side on or adjacent to the door stating: THIS DOOR TO REMAIN  UNLOCKED WHEN BUILDING IS OCCUPIED.  The sign shall be in letters 1 inch (25 mm) high on a contrasting background; and
2.3. The use of the key-operated locking device is revokable by the building official for due cause.

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