Last night I cut off part of the tip of an important finger, so typing is slow and painful.  Therefore, this really will be a quick answer to a Quick Question.  Several people have asked me lately…

If I have a pair of doors leading to a stairwell, do both leaves have to allow reentry?

This is an important question because installing electrified hardware on the stairwell side of both leaves of a pair will increase the cost by a substantial amount – not quite double, but enough that it’s worth thinking about.

The model codes don’t address this specifically – whether one leaf or both leaves must allow reentry.  So this is my interpretation and I think most AHJs would agree, but just in case, I will re-state that these are just my thoughts on the issue and not an official interpretation.

If I was on a stair landing and the stair had become compromised by smoke, in most cases the model codes would require me to be allowed to leave the stair and find another exit or wait for rescue.  NFPA 101 has some exceptions, so if you’re not familiar with the stairwell reentry requirements, there’s an article here.

So, I’m on the landing and I need to leave the stairwell.  If I’m faced with a closed pair of doors with a lever handle on the active leaf and nothing on the inactive leaf, the lever on the active leaf would have to be able to be remotely unlocked.  Instinctively, I would turn that lever to leave the stairs.  I would not stop to wonder why there isn’t another lever on the inactive leaf – 1 lever would be enough.

BUT – if this pair of doors is in a location where there is enough traffic to warrant lever trim on both leaves of the pair, then I would specify electrified levers for both doors.  Otherwise, I could try to turn the mechanically-locked lever, and give up without trying the electrically-locked lever.

If you only need 1 lever on the stair side for traffic flow, use 1 electrified lever on the active leaf and nothing on the stair side of the inactive leaf.  If the pair has 2 levers on the stair side, make them both electrified.

Make sense?  Questions?

If you have a photo of a pair of doors with lever trim on one leaf that I can add to this QQ post, please send it to me.  I could look for one myself, but my finger hurts. 

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