I recently updated an article that I wrote back in 2012, and it was included in this month’s Codes & Education newsletter from Allegion. The article addresses fail safe and fail secure products, and the common locations for each (the updated article is here). In the article I said that when I specify an electric strike, I almost always specify a fail secure strike rather than fail safe. Here’s an excerpt from that section of the article:
One of my security-consultant pals emailed me to say that on a fire door leading to an office area, the building occupants need to be able to gain access – even during a fire alarm – because in many cases the entire building is not immediately evacuated. If a fail secure electric strike is installed on the fire-rated office door, power is cut to the strike during a fire alarm to ensure that the door is latched. In this situation, the access-control credential won’t operate the strike and occupants can not access the space. The same thing goes for the credential in the key box, intended for use by firefighters.
He has a point. So what’s the answer? Electric strikes shouldn’t be used for this application? Are there other considerations for the access control system when the building may be occupied during a fire alarm? What if there is an access-control credential in the key box but the power has been cut and the access control system isn’t functioning?