Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
Allegion
Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Jan 21 2019

WWYD? Classroom Exit Alarm

I really need your expertise on this one.  Many classrooms have a door leading to the exterior, in addition to a door leading to an interior corridor.  Although the calculated occupant load of most classrooms is not large enough to mandate a second exit, the exterior door is often a required means of egress.  For example, the IBC allows 1-story Group E (Educational) buildings of certain construction types to be unlimited in area if equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system, and if surrounded by public ways or yards at least 60 feet wide, AND if each classroom has at least 2 means of egress, with one being a direct exit to the exterior.

In some classrooms it’s not so problematic to have an exterior means of egress (the most common problem I see is teachers obstructing the door with bookshelves and stored materials).  But in other classrooms, the exterior door can cause a safety issue because students are tempted to exit through the door unaccompanied.  There have been numerous reports of children eloping through exterior doors in schools, and at least one case resulted in a fatality.

If you’ve been following the updates to the International Building Code (IBC), you know that the 2018 IBC allows delayed egress locks to be installed on classroom doors with an occupant load less than 50.  With that said, some school budgets can not support the cost of installing delayed egress locks, and in some classrooms an exit alarm would be sufficient.  The difference between these options is that the delayed egress lock would sound an alarm and prevent the door from opening for 15 seconds, while the exit alarm would sound an alarm and allow the door to be opened immediately.

So here’s my question…for classroom doors where an exit alarm would provide the needed protection, what’s the best way to retrofit this function onto an existing door?  If the door has Von Duprin touchpad-style panic hardware, the ALK kit can be added, but what if the door has a lever handle and the building does not have an access control system?  Since the door would already have existing latching hardware, the exit alarm must be the type that does not latch, and relies on a contact switch that sounds the alarm when the door is opened.  Because it’s a retrofit, a battery-operated product may be preferred, and it should be resistant to tampering.

WWYD?

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11 Responses to “WWYD? Classroom Exit Alarm”

  1. Michael Silva says:

    One very common type of battery-powered exit alarm is the Detex EAX-500. These are reasonably priced and could easily be installed on a retrofit basis.

  2. Gary A Huizen says:

    What Michael said.
    Or Alarm Lock PG30 if they prefer keyless

  3. cda says:

    If a child wants to walk out the door, they will.

    So once that happens, adults should respond.

    To me the simplest is a door alarm, as in for children.

    If they want to add a flashing light, to attract more attention, that is another option.

    :::: or similar::

    https://www.absoluteautomation.com/door-alert-with-flashing-light-siren/

  4. Jim Elder says:

    Dont like batteries normally, but in a classroom, a chirping low battery alarm would be irritating enough to the students and teachers to get the problem resolved (hopefully, by not removing the battery permanently).Moreover, a school can implement policy that would hold teachers accountable for making sure the device is operable in their classrooms.

    Your photo does not appear to have an exit device. Presumably the exit device is required and if that is the case the ALK kit would be the least expensive; however, my preference is for a standard 99 equipped with a Chexit module only. That way there is a blinking light to warn potential violators the unit is armed and inputs and outputs are available to control and check the status of the device. In this way, the devices could be interfaced with a lockdown button so that exit could be made silently. I still don’t know why Alegion does not offer this device as standard catalog item. Every time I specify it, the contract hardware suppliers insist it does not exist (I have put in well over 1000 of these over my time).

    • Joel Niemi says:

      If the classroom occupancy is calculated at less than 50 (at 1:20, that means less than 1000 sf, or perhaps less than 980 sf), exit device is not required in the first place.

      The lockdown interface to permit silent exiting is a good idea.

      Battery-powered saves the cost of running 120v power to the door. Many building owners favor battery for washroom sensors due to the cost of wiring in new construction; payback gets really long when you’re amortizing cost of electricians’ time.

  5. Matt Ruhrer says:

    Or even the GE personal door/window alarm. A four pack is only $20 and best of all they don’t interfere with the door operation.

  6. Rich McKie says:

    We use the Detex alarms. We haven’t used them on classroom doors but do use them on the upstairs doors of fire escape stairwells.
    It seems that teenagers in some schools have found the stairwells are private places to Vape, have ahem, “relations” or sneak out to their cars
    while blocking the ground level exit open.why
    They have been very effective and I see no reason they shouldn’t work on classrooms although it would be a pain for the teachers to have to key them on and off when
    they want to use the door at recess, lunch or whenever.

  7. DAVID FEDERICO says:

    Many options are available the Alarm Lock product line offers a KeyPad operated override in their PG30 .Detex also offer a variety of exit alarms . Both have battery and auxillary power supplies including remote location . In other words the device does not need to be at the door just the contract. The actual devices could be installed at a location more convenient to disarm.

  8. Wesley Diener says:

    Detex EAX-500 any day. Easy install, keyable to most master key systems, ability to have an override access from the exterior (drill one 1-1/4″ hole and install rim cylinder), reliable, battery powered,what more do you need? Unless of course you need remote monitoring. That is a different can of worms. Alarm Lock has some wireless options for this that can be done with remote monitoring. I think that Schlage does too, but Lori would know better on that.

  9. Rich McKie says:

    Sorry about my messy post above. Never post in a hurry!
    One point I missed is that battery systems aren’t all bad.
    We have set up an annual schedule to replace the batteries in our Detex alarms
    and the batteries in our CO series locks. This gives us the opportunity to service
    the units and check them for any faults or damage rather than waiting for work orders to come in.

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