Last week, several people sent me a link to this photo, which ran in the Daily Herald and on other media sites with an AP article about the Major League Baseball lockout.  I couldn’t resist turning it into a teachable moment – not about baseball, of course…about panic hardware.  🙂

As many of you know, panic hardware is required by the International Building Code (IBC) for assembly and educational occupancies with an occupant load of 50 people or more.  Sports stadiums are considered assembly occupancies – they are Group A-5 – assembly spaces intended for participation in or viewing of outdoor activities.

There is an exception in the IBC that applies to stadiums, that’s easy to miss because it is not in the panic hardware section.  It’s in the section of Chapter 10 that applies to gates, which states that when a gate is part of a means of egress, it has to comply with the applicable code requirements for egress doors.  (As I wrote in a recent post, chains and padlocks would not typically be acceptable for securing doors in a means of egress – even when a building is not occupied.)

The IBC exception exempts stadium gates from the panic hardware requirement, if the gates are supervised when the public is present, AND where there is a safe dispersal area within the enclosed space.  There is more information about safe dispersal areas in this Decoded article, and here is the IBC exception for stadium gates:

1010.4.1 Stadiums. Panic hardware is not required on gates surrounding stadiums where such gates are under constant immediate supervision while the public is present, and where safe dispersal areas based on 3 square feet (0.28 m2) per occupant are located between the fence and enclosed space. Such required safe dispersal areas shall not be located less than 50 feet (15 240 mm) from the enclosed space. See Section 1028.5 for means of egress from safe dispersal areas.

It’s only a few weeks until Opening Day…which team will you be rooting for?

Photo: Associated Press

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