IBC/IFC – 1010.1.9 Door operations. Except as specifically permitted by this section, egress doors shall be readily openable from the egress side without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.
NFPA 101 – 126.96.36.199.3 Locks, if provided, shall not require the use of a key, a tool, or special knowledge or effort for operation from the egress side.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a particular type of hardware requires special knowledge or effort to operate since this is left up to each AHJ to interpret. For example, if a lever turns up instead of down, does that require special knowledge or effort? How about a lever installed vertically instead of horizontally?
Well, the hardware in this Fixed-it Friday photo from Dave Cox (fire marshal and deputy chief) leaves no room for argument. A screw was added to this panic hardware so the door could not be used. It’s unclear why, since there were other adjacent doors that were operable.
As discussed earlier this week, if it looks like an exit, it has to operate like an exit. This screw has since been removed.