Imagine that you were in an occupied high school gym and practice facility, and aaaaaaalllllll of the egress doors except the main entrance were locked with this method (and then scroll down):

In this exercise, the school is a potential customer for you.  Your first step is to talk to the school administrators…maybe they don’t realize the code requirements and potential consequences of security devices that don’t allow free egress.  But the administrators tell you that they have to lock the doors this way to prevent access from the outside.  Their plan is for teachers and coaches to run to all of the doors and unlock them if there is an emergency (all staff members have keys to the padlocks).  You give them a price to solve the problem with code-compliant hardware, but they say that it’s not in the budget this year.

You go back to the shop, worrying about the safety of the kids and the other occupants of the gym.  You might get the fairly sizeable contract to replace the existing hardware in the future, but you can’t stop thinking about the “what-ifs.”  So you hesitantly call the local fire marshal, who says that their office is aware of the situation at the school, but that the school needs a way to keep the doors secured (WHAT?).  It appears that the local fire marshal is ok with the plan for teachers to run around and unlock the doors in an emergency.

When I see a problem in the field, it’s not uncommon for the building owner to respond that the fire marshal just visited, and didn’t object.  I think there are a lot of potential reasons for this.  Maybe the fire marshal didn’t notice the problem, or is not intimately familiar with the codes that address doors and hardware.  Doors are complicated – especially doors with electrified hardware.  Sometimes there are also political reasons for lack of enforcement.

So you go home, still worrying.  What now?  The school has a plan, and the local fire marshal accepts it.  You don’t want to ruin your relationship with the facility, or jeopardize a future sale, but you know in your heart of hearts that it’s not a safe situation.  You hunt down the contact info for the state fire marshal, and reluctantly get their office involved.  Two days later, the school gets a visit from the SFM, and the padlocks and bars are removed.


Kudos to Randy Almand of Action Lock Doc for doing the right thing – and for sending me the photos!


If you’ll be at Autodesk University, stop by booth A345 and visit Allegion to see live demonstrations of Overtur.  We’ll also be highlighting our recent enhancements and celebrating Overtur’s one year anniversary at an open house from 3:30 to 5:00 pm in Casanova Room 505/507.  Come and see us!

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