I could have saved these photos for Wordless Wednesday or Fixed-it Friday, but I want to take this opportunity to write a longer post about this issue.  First, the photos, which I received from Elias Saltz of Conspectus:

Push Button to Exit

In case you can’t read the sign on the door, it says, “Push the red button and the bar on the door at the same time to exit.”

This is the stair discharge door in a hotel.  This door is required by code to allow free egress from the stair at all times (or possibly delayed egress with a 15-second delay).  It is not code-compliant to require building occupants to push a button beside the door for egress, and it is even worse that they have to hold the button in and push the touchpad of the panic hardware at the same time.

I’m guessing the door has a mag-lock or power bolt.  The model codes address these locks in two ways (here’s a video):

Option A: The lock is released by a sensor over the door, with a push-button beside the door as a back-up release.  The button has to unlock the door for 30 seconds, independent of the access control system.  The door must also be unlocked upon activation of the fire alarm and upon power failure.

Option B: The lock is released by a switch in the door-mounted hardware – in this case, the panic hardware.  For these systems, the model codes don’t require the emergency push button or the fire alarm release, but the lock must unlock upon power failure.

Having an electrified that is released only by the push button (and presumably upon fire alarm activation and power failure) is a tragedy waiting to happen.  Requiring someone to do two things at once in order to exit is even worse, and is not compliant with the egress codes or the accessibility standards.  There is a video here about a door at a mosque where the lock was supposed to be released by a button beside the door.  Since the building occupants could not intuitively unlock the door to exit, the bodies of 17 victims were found at the door after a mass shooting.

I was talking with someone recently who said that he frequently sees this application – a button beside the door to unlock it for egress.  THIS IS NOT OK! 

How can I reach the people who are installing these locks, and help them understand the risks??

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