Since I started this blog I’ve often thought how great it would be if JQP (John Q Public) knew the basic requirements of fire and egress doors.  What if everyone who saw a locked egress door or a propped-open fire door had a way to change the situation?  Imagine the effect this could have on life safety!  In my imaginary world, I think of these informed people as door minions, except instead of serving an evil SuperVillian, they’re helping to save the world.  OK, it might be a stretch, but I saw this article the other day, giving me hope that there ARE door minions out there…

Walmart says doors are not blocked by carts
Morgan Hill Times

Dear Red Phone,

I have a serious concern about the safety of our local Wal-Mart. I believe the store is violating the law and jeopardizing the safety of its customers. I have talked to and complained to the store management, yet they still practice this unsafe and illegal activity. About 9 p.m. each night Wal-Mart does not allow customers to use the store’s traditional entrance. They redirect customers to enter through the exit doorway. They will post a sign on the exterior of the entrance door redirecting people to enter through the exit door. Wal-Mart then turns the power off to the door so it will not automatically slide open. Then on the interior side and exterior side of this entrance door they place shopping carts to block physical access to the door. This is done almost every night. The several times I have been in the store I check the entrance door and it is physically locked. The door is clearly marked as an emergency exit.

My understanding is that during normal business hours all emergency exits shall be accessible, not locked or blocked. The sliding door should be able to be pushed open on a swinging hinge/pin to prevent people from being trampled if there is a rush to the door during an emergency. It should not be physically locked. Every time I have seen this I have talked to the manager in charge at the time and express my concern. While I am there they will correct the problem. But recently, on two different occasions, I have had to return within 30 minutes and I found the obstructions back in place. This store must have a policy (local or corporate) to take these illegal actions to block fire exits. I have complained to management numerous times, yet they do not care. It appears Wal-Mart does not care about the safety of their customers or employees. Until these problems are corrected my family will no longer shop at the store and we will spread the word in the community that Wal-Mart does not care. Please help to resolve this issue, before they truly get someone hurt. Thanks, Red Phone.

Red Phone: Dear Concerned Shopper, it took some time to get through to corporate to get an answer, but Red Phone eventually spoke with Wal-Mart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie in Bentonville, Ark., Wal-Mart’s headquarters. First, she thanked you for bringing it to her attention and that she spoke to the manager who told her it’s the first he heard of any complaints. Second, she said she was told that doorways are not blocked. “It is my understanding that the store is in compliance with all regulations,” she said. “They are not blocked. If they are, they will not do it any longer. The store will make sure the doors are not blocked.” Well good caller, it appears it’s a matter of ‘he said, she said,” at this point. Make a return visit. If you see the doors blocked, let Red Phone know. Red Phone has Hardie’s phone number.

Unfortunately, even if someone is aware of the code requirements, most people would not feel comfortable pushing this issue with the manager of a facility.  Eventually I’m going to figure out how to use today’s technology to allow people to enlighten a facility about the requirements without feeling uncomfortable about it.  Any ideas?

Here’s a photo that was posted on a local news site in Florida:
“When we asked about the exit…we were told that it was done to stop shoplifters.  It seems that someone ran out with a laptop PC and this was the location’s way of additional ‘security’.

Here’s another one, from A Firefighter’s Own Worst Enemy:

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