Chair used to lock an emergency exit

Photo: Dean Benson

Today’s Quick Question came up again last week:

Do current model codes prohibit the use of crossbar style panic hardware?

The short answer is no – the model codes do not prohibit crossbar panics, but I’m curious about whether you have seen any change in your state or local codes.

The slightly longer answer…

The three common types of panic hardware are crossbar style, touchpad style, and recessed (all shown on the panic hardware page of iDigHardware).  There is also tubular panic hardware that is often used on all-glass doors.

One of the disadvantages of crossbar panic hardware is that it is easier for someone to prevent egress by chaining the panic hardware together, or using some other creative method (see above).  With that said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and egress can be defeated in favor of security or convenience – regardless of the type of hardware.

The model codes require panic hardware in certain locations, depending on the use group/occupancy classification and the occupant load.  Panic hardware is defined in the I-Codes as: A door-latching assembly incorporating a device that releases the latch upon the application of a force in the
direction of egress travel.  The type of “device” used to release the latch is not further defined by the model codes, except that the actuating portion must measure at least half the width of the door.

For me, the deciding factor is the listing.  Both the I-Codes and the NFPA Codes require panic hardware to be listed in accordance with UL 305, Panic Hardware.  If a product is being installed on a door that is required to have panic hardware, I would only specify hardware that is listed to UL 305.  It could have a crossbar, touchpad, tubular bar, or some other device that measures half the width of the door, depending on aesthetic preferences, electrical options, door material, etc.

As required for all types of door hardware, the door must be unlatched with one releasing motion (with a couple of exceptions), with one hand and with no special knowledge or effort, without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge or effort, and without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.  The mounting height and operable force limitations must also be met.

Have you seen any state or local codes prohibiting crossbar style panic hardware?

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