I love hardware ingenuity, especially when it’s code-driven.  I’ve spent this week in Orlando with 500+ of my coworkers, and although we haven’t had a whole lot of time to hang out by the pool, I had to go check out an application that was spotted by one of our specwriters – Matt Wildman.

According to the International Building Code, pool enclosures must be at least 4 feet high, with gates that are self-closing and self-latching.  Gates must swing away from the pool, and the release mechanism on the outside must be at least 54 inches from the bottom of the door or gate to prevent a young child from entering.*  There is an exception to the hardware mounting height requirements – typically a maximum of 48 inches – to allow for the 54-inch location on pool gates.

The hotel where our meeting is being held has two large pool enclosures, and all of the pedestrian gates have panic hardware with the panic device mounted at standard height (approx. 40 inches above the sidewalk).  If a rim panic was used, the lever trim would be mounted at the same height as the panic, so the lever wouldn’t meet the 54-inch requirement.  If the panic hardware was mounted higher on the gate, the panic wouldn’t meet the mounting height requirement for panic hardware (34 -48 inches above the floor).

The gates at this hotel have a special Von Duprin application, which is like a rim panic device for the latching function, with a top rod (no latch) which is controlled by the lever.  The lever is mounted at 54 inches, and by turning the lever it pushes the rod down and retracts the rim latch.  For the Von Duprin experts out there, it’s a 9957 active head with a 9927 top rod, a 374T control with a lever substituted for the turn piece – making it a 374L.  It can be priced and ordered by requesting a 99L x 374L x POOL.  To order you will need to include the hand (LHR or RHR), gate thickness, strike (299 or 1609), finish, and length (3′ or 4′).  An elevation of the gate is helpful too. For exterior applications, weep holes are recommended, as well as more frequent lubrication with Duralube or a similar product (no WD-40 or white lithium unless it is synthetic).  For questions on this special application, you can contact the Exits Technical Support Team.

Yes, that’s a surface bolt below the panic device.  I assume they have permission from the AHJ.  At least it’s locked in the retracted position so it can only be projected by an authorized person.

The closer application is a little less slick.  Got any better ideas?

Check out the pool device in action:

*The IBC includes an exception that states: “Exception: Access doors or gates in barrier walls and fences protecting pools, spas and hot tubs shall be permitted to have operable parts of the release of latch on self-latching devices at 54 inches (1370 mm) maximum above the finished floor or ground, provided the self-latching devices are not also self-locking devices operated by means of a key, electronic opener or integral combination lock.”

This exception is not clear, which has led to variable interpretations from AHJs, but I think what it means is that if the gate has a self-latching, self-locking device which requires a key, code, fob, or other credential to enter, it does not have to be mounted at the 54-inch height.  Until this is clarified, the interpretations will likely continue to be inconsistent.

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