Now that I’ve spent years teaching all of you which occupancy classifications / occupant loads require doors with panic hardware*, a change to the 2021 IBC will add a new location where panic hardware is required.

A proposal has been approved for the 2021 edition of the International Building Code (IBC), which will require panic hardware on doors serving refrigeration machinery rooms over 1,000 square feet in area.  The change proposal was submitted by a representative of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration and was approved as modified by public comment (the final action results are here).  The complete documentation including the reason statement and public comments (E15-18) begins on page 584 of the 2018 Group A Public Comment Agenda.

The 2021 edition of the IBC will include the following language:

1010.2.9.1 Refrigeration machinery room. Refrigeration machinery rooms larger than 1,000 square feet (93 m2) shall have not less than two exit or exit access doorways that swing in the direction of egress travel and shall be equipped with panic hardware or fire exit hardware.

This change will help to protect occupants from the risk of a rapid release of hazardous or asphyxiant gases from the refrigeration equipment.  This application is similar to the protection needed for Group H (High Hazard) occupancies; Group H doors require panic hardware regardless of the occupant load.

*If you’ve forgotten where panic hardware is required, here is a video that covers this topic, along with a supplementary article about panic hardware on electrical rooms.

In another iDigHardware “small world” story (remember this one?), I originally published this post with a photo of a refrigeration machinery room that I credited to Process Cooling. Carl Kwechin of JLL / Southeast Financial Center read the post and recognized his building’s plant! What are the chances?? Carl sent me a new photo which now appears in this post.

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