Charles Anderson sent me this photo of a horizontal sliding door he found on a marked exit in an antique store. So…is a horizontal sliding door code-compliant in this location?
Let’s assume that this building has to comply with the 2015 edition of the International Building Code (this particular building doesn’t, but it’s just a hypothetical question). First, the padlock and hasp are a problem for me, but some code officials will allow security measures like this if engaged only after-hours. I think this is risky because someone could forget to unlock the door during business hours, or firefighters could become trapped when fighting a fire after-hours. But let’s also set aside the padlock and hasp, and assume that the fire marshal has given this antique store permission to lock their door this way.
The IBC says that egress doors must be side-hinged or pivoted swinging doors, and we know that if a door serves an area with an occupant load of 50 people or more, it has to be outswinging. BUT…section 1010.1.2 of the 2015 IBC includes 9 exceptions. Swinging doors are not required in the following locations:
- Private garages, office areas, or factory/storage areas with an occupant load of 10 or less
- Detention areas (I-3 use group)
- Some types of patient rooms within suites in a health care facility
- Dwelling units in Groups R-2 and R-3
- Revolving doors complying with Section 1010.1.4.1, except in High Hazard occupancies
- Special purpose horizontal sliding, accordion, or folding door assemblies complying with Section 1010.1.4.3, except in High Hazard occupancies (these are power-operated doors that are usually in the open position but may close upon fire alarm)
- Power-operated doors complying with Section 1010.1.4.2 (these are automatic sliders with the breakout/breakaway feature)
- Bathroom doors in an R-1 dwelling unit
- Manually operated horizontal sliding doors serving an area with an occupant load of 10 or less, except in High Hazard occupancies
Exception 9 is only exception that might be applicable here. This exception would allow a horizontal sliding door in a means of egress, but only when the occupant load is 10 people or less. For the sales floor of an antique store on grade level to have an occupant load of 10 people or less, the area served by the door would have to be 300 square feet or less (refer to this article on calculating the occupant load). That would be a very tiny store, so in my opinion this door would not be compliant with the 2015 IBC. Maybe it wasn’t even compliant when it was installed, or when the space became an antique store.