After last week’s post about a change to the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) which requires automatic operators on some public entrances, I received a few questions.  This is a pretty major change, since the previous codes and standards did not require auto operators as long as the doors could meet the requirements for manually-operated doors.  Here is one of the questions:

What types of buildings fall into the use groups where automatic operators are required for public entrances?

In last week’s post, I included the table from the 2021 IBC that lists the applicable use groups and occupant loads for buildings that will be required to have at least 1 door or 1 set of doors (exterior and vestibule) with automatic operators on their public entrances.  The change applies to almost all types of assembly occupancies with an occupant load of 300 people or more, and for business, mercantile, and R-1 residential occupancies with an occupant load of 500 people or more.  There were some questions about the use groups, so here’s a breakdown.  The examples listed with each use group are not intended to be inclusive of every type of facility.

Occupant Load 300+

  • A-1 – assembly occupancy, usually with fixed seating, used for production and viewing of the performing arts or movies, including movie theaters and other types of theaters, symphony and concert halls, and TV and radio studios that admit an audience
  • A-2 – assembly occupancy used for food/drink consumption, including banquet halls, gaming areas of casinos, nightclubs, taverns, and bars, restaurants, cafeterias, and similar dining facilities (including associated commercial kitchens)
  • A-3 – assembly occupancy used for worship, recreation, or amusement and other assembly uses not classified as another Group A use group, including arcades, art galleries, bowling alleys, community halls, courtrooms, dance halls (without food or drink consumption), funeral parlors, lecture halls, libraries, museums, places of religious worship, waiting areas in transportation terminals, and gymnasiums, indoor swimming pools, and indoor tennis courts without spectator seating
  • A-4 – assembly occupancy used for viewing of indoor sporting events and activities with spectator seating, including arenas, skating rinks, swimming pools, and tennis courts
  • Note: Group A-5 is not included in the table that requires automatic operators at the public entrances, but I don’t like leaving loose ends, so Group A-5 is an assembly occupancy used for participation in or viewing outdoor activities, including amusement park structures, bleachers, grandstands, and stadiums (the auto operator requirement does not apply here).

Occupant Load 500+

  • B – business occupancy used for office, professional, or service-type transactions, including ambulatory care facilities, doctors, dentists, and veterinarian offices, banks, beauty salons, outpatient clinics and ambulatory care facilities, labs, post offices, and educational occupancies for students above the 12th grade (colleges and universities)
  • M – mercantile occupancy used for display and sale of merchandise including merchandise stock, where the public has access, including retail stores and markets, greenhouses providing public access for the display and sale of plants, and motor-fuel dispensing facilities
  • R-1 – residential occupancy containing sleeping units where the residents are primarily transient in nature, including hotels and motels, and congregate living facilities and boarding houses with more than 10 occupants (all transient)

Remember, the auto operator requirement applies if a) the project is required to comply with the 2021 IBC, b) the entrance is a public entrance, c) the use group is one of the types listed above, AND d) the calculated occupant load is greater than 300 or greater than 500, depending on the use group.  The operators are required for 1 door or 1 set of doors (exterior and vestibule) at each public entrance – not every door at each public entrance.

If you’d like to practice the basic use groups, there are some Quizlet cards here, and if you need to calculate the occupant load, that is covered in this Decoded article.

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