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Mar 18 2016

FF: Egress Deterrent

Category: Egress,Fixed-it Friday,Panic HardwareLori @ 10:26 am Comments (19)

Jim Campbell of Allegion sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo this morning, and it made me wonder about the code-compliance of egress deterrents.  The photo was taken at a VERY well-known theme park which does a great job with their door-related code-compliance, and is frequently inspected by the local code officials.  The black part of this chain looks like it might be a magnet, which would allow the chain to separate easily if someone tried to exit through this door.  I’ve also seen plastic loops – like light-weight zip ties which break when someone tries to open the door.  As far as I know, the model codes don’t address these deterrents.

Does anyone have any experience/opinions?


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19 Responses to “FF: Egress Deterrent”

  1. Cda says:

    I would say NO, to this set up.

    The human creature is funny. If they see the chain, even tho it would easily release,

    Might think it would not release.

    Might think they are not supposed to go through that door.

  2. lach says:

    What is the thought process behind using a deterrent such as this? It seems just as easy to get through this as it would be to go out the panic? Is it just a way for them to tell people not to go through without using a sign?

  3. Leo says:

    Isn’t it 2 Operations? 1) to open the chain, 2) to push the bar.

  4. WSM says:

    In my own professional opinion I would seriously refrain from allowing any use of deterrents such as this at emergency egress doors completely. The mixed signals that this action is projecting would be terrible to a person in a state of panic no matter how easily the breakaway device is. The perception from afar by an emotionally distraught & frightened mob would be devastating, especially in this day in time.

  5. Bill Partington says:

    Looks a little bit like a “chained exit” doesn’t it ? perception is reality, but really creative

  6. Frank Coolidge says:

    I bet the black part of the chain is NOT a magnet … if it was a magnet, strong enough to hold the chain sections together, wouldn’t is also swing and be attracted to the metal door as well … Definitely mixed signals be sent no access – egress ??

    • Krystina says:

      Frank, it probably actually is a magnet. Since the magnet is at the lowest point, it does not have to fight gravity as much if it was at the highest point of the chain. Additionally, it’s plenty far from the covered chassis, which is the only fairly magnetic part of the exit device (aluminum is not magnetic).

      That said, I would be more concerned about ADA requirements (I’m ASSUMING there is an EXIT sign above the door that we can’t see). If an individual in a wheelchair is one of the first through, that chain could get caught around his/her neck (though highly unlikely) or in the wheel (which are sometimes made of steel), causing not just a slowdown, but a possible trample scenario. Either way, I still see it as a life safety hazard.

  7. Mike Meredith says:

    Not sure how or which code would address this. I see this, and understand the rational behind it – it is simply there to cause someone to pause for a moment before simply hammering the panic bar and egressing. Still, if companies/businesses/amusement parks are going to the trouble of installing these types of deterrents (or something even more restrictive), wouldn’t it make as much sense to have simply added the built in alarm kit, like the ALK option for the Von Duprin 99, and add a sign that says “Emergency Exit Only – Alarm Will Sound if Door is Opened,” or something to that effect? Only one operation would be required and the signage – while not as attractive as this chain (?) – would be the deterrent.

  8. Louis Mayer says:

    I agree. This is a deterrent to the immediate use of this exit.

  9. Matthew Graham says:

    Do we know if this is part of a queue? Often theme park lines are separated by posts and chains. If you are lucky, maybe they use a velvet rope or two. Anyhow, a “chained door” would indicate that the queue does not pass through these doors. Theme parks often see visitors from around the world. I can see how a sign in English would not be an effective deterrent.

    • Julia says:

      That’s what I was wondering. We cannot tell if there is an “Exit” sign over these doors. This is another case of what the AHJ thinks is ok will pass.

  10. Ryan Pfeiffer says:

    Maybe the same person that specified that chain also specified cylinder dogging on only one leaf?

    I don’t know if codes address this, but I think in some specific situations it could be hazardous. Unlikely to matter in a fire as people would push through it anyway, but if someone was being harassed or attacked or something they might believe they are trapped. Do life safety codes cover that sort of thing?

  11. John Rein, AHC says:

    I’ve seen this many times – the chain is held in the center with a magnet that releases easily. This is perfectly legal and safe. The chain is meant to discourage egress except for in the event of an emergency.

  12. Dave Matas says:

    Observation; It looks as if the doors are already dogged down. unless there are power ops or mag lock the doors seem to be unlocked. I have been in theaters and auditoriums with multiple exits and they will put up stanchions, signs, cords to direct people to a specific exit during a show or service. those deterrents are removed at the end of the event or in the case of an emergency. Could the magnetic chains be used for the same purpose?
    Even in that scenario, I agree it is a bit of an obsessive deterrent.
    My two cents.

  13. Marcus Muirhead says:

    Perhaps the magnet separates a contact which reports the break. But I think this fails inspection for the same reason you aren’t allowed to disguise an exit with signage or a mural: at a glance it gives the impression that the exit is secured from use by this chain, and might deceive a person into looking for a “working” exit in an emergency. NG, in my opinion.

  14. JBange says:

    Regarding “why couldn’t the just use an ALK and signage”, I used to work at a country hospital with exactly that, and it’s not enough. People don’t read signs, and people don’t care about a squealing noise behind them when they’re trying to get to Popeye’s Chicken 2 minutes faster. What eventually worked was a strip of blue making tape strung across the frame at about 5′ with a hand written sign suspended from it saying “not a shortcut/alarm will sound”. Looked like crap, but was very obviously still a fire exit, and very obviously wouldn’t stop one from leaving. Probably still code-questionable.

  15. Andrew Dushynskiy says:

    I agree with opinions listed above. Even though it might seams like not a physical obstruction, but it in case of emergency it might confuse evacuees, increasing the time for escape. I have come accross with simular set up (plastic zip ties) requesting the owner to remove it

  16. Dave Taschuk says:

    If they are so worried about people pushing through the door they should step up and put delayed egress on the doors, Chexit device would great but there are a few permit and verification hoops to jump through

  17. Rich says:

    I have been to that theme park and the chain caught my attention as well. The one I saw was in a line up area and was obviously there to make people think twice and give the impression of “Don’t go through here”
    I believe the path of egress passes through an area which is generally restricted to the public.
    I understand the reasoning behind it although I agree that it is an iffy solution.
    I have installed an alarmed panic bar (which is never turned on) for the same reason and it works very well.

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