Quiet latch retractionLast week I posted a photo from Paul Timm of Allegion, showing a stage door with a creative method for preventing the panic hardware from latching.  I asked for ideas about what could have been done differently with the hardware to avoid the latching problem.

Someone suggested specifying the electric latch retraction feature, and YES! – this would be my solution as well.  I’m guessing that the problem with the stage door was the sound of the latch engaging with the strike during a performance, but I’ve seen similar “fixes” to prevent latching to allow access as well.

We don’t know for sure whether the stage door is fire rated, but either way, electric latch retraction would help.  If you’re not familiar with this feature (for example, the Von Duprin QEL), the latch is held retracted electrically.  When power is applied, the latch retracts.  When power is removed, the latch projects.  Egress is not affected, regardless of the status of the latch.

For fire door assemblies, the latch must project automatically if there is a fire.  NFPA 80 states: 

Latching arrangements that do not provide positive latching in the normal mode shall be permitted to be used provided that, in a fire emergency, the door becomes positively latched by means of an automatic fail-safe device that is activated by an automatic fire detector. (See Section 4.7.)

Specifying this feature would help to avoid creative field modifications that could affect the fire protection or the security provided by the stage door, or other openings where a positive latch is not desired at certain times.  Anticipating these problems and specifying the hardware accordingly can have a positive impact on safety and security for building occupants.

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.