Today’s Quick Question came from an Allegion specwriter who was working on a hardware specification for a hospital project:

Can on-call rooms in a hospital have occupancy indicator deadbolts that are separate from the latchsets, or do these doors have to unlatch with one releasing motion?

This is a great question. All doors in a means of egress require hardware that unlatches with one releasing motion, unless there is a specific exception in the code.  There are exceptions in the model codes for residential dwelling units and sleeping units, where a second – non-simultaneous – releasing motion would be acceptable.

An on-call room is a room in a hospital where staff can sleep or rest while they are on call.  According to the International Building Code (IBC), a sleeping unit is a space for one or more persons to sleep, which may also include other provisions for living.  This might make it seem like the on-call rooms could have a separate nightlatch, deadbolt, or security chain because the rooms are used for sleeping, but we need to take a closer look at the IBC exception:

1010.2.4(5) Doors from individual dwelling or sleeping units of Group R occupancies having an occupant load of 10 or less are permitted to be equipped with a night latch, dead bolt or security chain, provided such devices are openable from the inside without the use of a key or tool.

The IBC exception specifically addresses Group R – Residential occupancies, and a hospital would typically be Group I – Institutional.  Because the exception applies to Group R, it would not apply to on-call rooms used for sleeping in a Group I occupancy.  However, if the on-call rooms are in an area that is considered Group R, the separate deadbolts could be used per the exception.  NFPA 101 has a similar exception and also refers to residential occupancies.  So technically, the model codes require on-call rooms in a Group I facility to have hardware that unlatches with one motion (for example, a mortise lock with an integral indicator), but would allow a second releasing motion (for example, a latchset + separate deadbolt) for Group R areas.

Update: Thanks for the feedback in the comments!  I have edited the end of this post to reflect the possibility that the on-call area could be Group R.

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