Question: What’s the difference between panic hardware and fire exit hardware? And what’s an exit device?
Answer: An exit device is the general term for panic hardware, a panic device, or fire exit hardware. An exit device may be of the touchpad, crossbar, or recessed style, and it’s characterized by an actuating mechanism that spans at least half the width of the door. If the length of the touchpad or crossbar is at not least half the width of the door, the hardware is not code-compliant.
Panic hardware is an exit device which has been tested and certified to meet the requirements of the UL 305 – Panic Hardware test standard. One of the requirements of this standard is that the hardware must unlatch when a maximum 15-pound force is applied to the touchpad or crossbar.
Fire exit hardware is panic hardware which has also been tested per UL 10C – Positive Pressure Fire Tests of Door Assemblies, or another fire test standard. Fire exit hardware is used on fire doors, and will bear two labels – one for panic, and one for fire. Because fire doors are required to positively latch, mechanical dogging – holding the latch retracted with a key or tool, is not allowed on fire exit hardware. The dogging function may be accomplished electrically, as long as the latches project automatically upon fire alarm.
The locations where panic hardware or fire exit hardware must be installed are indicated by the International Building Code and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. The National Electric Code (NFPA 70) also requires panic hardware for certain electrical room doors.