Each of the articles below has been published in an industry journal – Door Security + Safety Magazine, Construction Specifier, Life Safety Digest, or Locksmith Ledger. Because the articles span across several years and several editions of the codes, the code adopted in a specific jurisdiction may differ from the requirements described in the articles.

Door Security + Safety Magazine

WW: NUMBER 100?? (September 2019)

September 4th, 2019|16 Comments

Remember when I went to Italy in July and I took hundreds of photos of doors and then hardly shared any of them with y'all because some of the photos were going to be published in Door Security + Safety Magazine?

Decoded: Update on Roof Doors (August 2019)

June 24th, 2019|2 Comments

A change to the 2018 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC) helps to establish the intent of these codes with regard to roof doors.

Decoded: NFPA 3000 (August 2018)

June 21st, 2018|2 Comments

Given that NFPA 3000 is a standard for preparation and response to an active shooting, how does that affect the door and hardware industry?

Decoded: Manually-Operated Sliding Doors (April 2018)

March 5th, 2018|13 Comments

Manual sliders are not always allowed in a means of egress, since the model codes require side-hinged or pivoted swinging doors for most locations. The International Building Code (IBC) currently contains 9 exceptions where swinging doors are not required.

Decoded: Panic Hardware Requirements for Rooms Housing Electrical Equipment (February 2018)

December 18th, 2017|3 Comments

NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code (NEC) has been adopted by most US states, and includes requirements for panic hardware or fire exit hardware on certain rooms housing electrical equipment; the voltage and amperage thresholds that determine which rooms require panic hardware were changed in the 2017 edition of this code.

Decoded: Locations for Vision Lights and Viewers (January 2018)

November 27th, 2017|9 Comments

A vision light is not required in each door opening on an accessible route, but if vision lights are provided for viewing purposes in doors or sidelights, the bottom of at least one of these lights must be located no more than 43 inches above the floor...

Decoded: Alterations to Fire Door Assemblies (Updated October 2017)

October 19th, 2017|39 Comments

You may remember that I'm working on a series of online code classes, which will be available early in 2018.  To support those classes, I am updating some of my past Decoded articles to include revisions from new editions of the codes and standards.  Here is the latest information regarding alterations of fire door assemblies.

Decoded: Securing Parking Garages (September 2017)

August 10th, 2017|7 Comments

Without proper planning, parking garages can present security and life-safety challenges. People who are authorized to use the parking area – or unauthorized people who are able to enter an open parking garage – may attempt to gain access to other floors of the building...

Decoded: Temperature-Rise Doors (July 2017)

May 25th, 2017|7 Comments

With the increased use of sprinkler systems in commercial and institutional buildings, the need for temperature-rise doors has declined, but there are still locations where they are required...

Decoded: School Security Update (March 2017)

February 15th, 2017|0 Comments

In case you haven't been following the classroom barricade device issue closely, here's an update. Within the last few years, products have begun to appear on the market which were advertised as a secure way to lock a classroom door...

Decoded: Small Assembly Occupancies (August 2016)

June 13th, 2016|6 Comments

It is not uncommon for a building classified as another occupancy type to include an area used for assembly. For example, a nursing home would typically have a dining room, an office building might have a large conference center, or an apartment complex could have a function room that can be used for parties...

Decoded: Alternative Methods and Equivalency (June 2016)

April 19th, 2016|6 Comments

I'm on vacation this week and I could really use your help. This is my next Decoded article...if you're willing to check it out and leave any comments below, I could submit it to the editor and try to enjoy a little time off. Please help! 🙂

Decoded: Change to BHMA Standard for Exit Devices (May 2016)

March 14th, 2016|0 Comments

BHMA is required by ANSI to update and review each of the product standards every 5 years, and an important change was made to ANSI/BHMA A156.3 when it was last revised in 2014. The standard now requires cycle tests for Grade 1 exit devices to include preloading...

Decoded: Fire-Protection-Rated vs. Fire-Resistance-Rated Assemblies (March 2016)

January 11th, 2016|4 Comments

Where can we continue to install fire-protection-rated openings (NFPA 252 or UL10C) and where do we need to install fire-resistance-rated openings (ASTM E119 or UL 263)? One clue can be found in NFPA 80. In the 2013 edition, Paragraph 6.3.3.3 states that transom frames and sidelight frames are permitted when a fire-protection rating of 3/4-hour or less is required...

Decoded: Communicating Doors Between Sleeping Rooms (February 2016)

December 7th, 2015|17 Comments

A door opening between two adjoining hotel rooms is called a communicating door, and is created by installing two doors within one frame - each swinging in the opposite direction. The purpose of these doors is to allow convenience for family or friends sharing two hotel rooms, but the doors also provide security between the two rooms when occupied by separate parties...

Barricade Device Update (October 2015)

October 12th, 2015|0 Comments

In the October issue of Doors & Hardware, I have an article on what took place in Ohio with regard to the state legislation on classroom barricade devices, and another article covering the myths and facts presented at the National Association of State Fire Marshals' annual conference (here's a video version of this information)...

Decoded: Fire Door Closing Cycle (September 2015)

August 31st, 2015|2 Comments

It has been 8 years since the annual fire door assembly inspection requirements were added to the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 – Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. Six years ago, the 2009 model codes referenced the 2007 edition of NFPA 80, making the inspections required by code in jurisdictions where those codes were adopted...

Decoded: Patient Room Doors in Health Care Occupancies (August 2015)

June 18th, 2015|30 Comments

The recent nursing home fire in central China which killed 38 elderly residents is a deadly reminder of the responsibility of these facilities to keep their residents safe. While the code requirements for health care facilities and nursing homes go far beyond the doors, frames, and hardware, there are some important considerations for door openings...

Decoded: Screen Doors and Doors in a Series (July 2015)

May 14th, 2015|5 Comments

Screen doors are sometimes used in commercial or institutional occupancies, where air transfer through the opening is desired. One example of this would be a door leading from a commercial kitchen to the exterior. In some areas of the country where the climate is temperate, this is a common application which consists of two doors in the same opening, one inswinging and one outswinging. It can be very difficult for people with certain disabilities...

Decoded: Double-Egress Pairs in a Health Care Occupancy (June 2015)

April 19th, 2015|20 Comments

There is an IBC exception regarding smoke barrier doors that has to be one of the most confusing and widely debated door-related sections in the code. In the 2015 edition, Section 709.5 Exception 1 exempts smoke barrier doors in some health care occupancies from the requirements that apply to smoke barriers in other locations...

Barricade Device? Think Twice! (May 2015)

March 23rd, 2015|33 Comments

I've edited this article and the downloadable PDF - feel free to share it!...There is a question currently under debate in several jurisdictions across the country – should barricade devices be used to secure classroom doors during an active-shooter incident?

Decoded: Electrified Hardware Refresher (April 2015)

February 5th, 2015|5 Comments

There are 7 basic code categories for electrified hardware used to control access or egress, and this edition of Decoded provides a brief refresher on each as well as some recent code changes. Many of these code applications, but not all, fall into the category commonly called “special locking arrangements.”

Decoded: Egress Terminology (March 2015)

January 20th, 2015|3 Comments

As I mentioned in my previous column, there are other factors that affect the quantity and location of egress doors, beyond the general requirements for 2, 3, or 4 exits depending on the occupant load. For example, doors used for egress need to be located remotely...

Decoded: Calculating the Egress Width of Door Openings (Updated July 2017)

December 31st, 2014|5 Comments

A common question when replacing doors and hardware during a renovation is whether one leaf of a pair can be “fixed” in place, or whether an opening can be eliminated completely. It’s very risky to make this decision without consulting the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), but it is helpful to understand some of the factors that could affect the location, size, and quantity of required exits before preparing your request for the AHJ...

6 Accessibility Changes to Watch Out For (November 2014)

October 14th, 2014|3 Comments

The 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design went into effect in March of 2012, but there are several requirements that continue to surprise architects and specifiers as well as door and hardware suppliers. These issues can be costly to resolve if they’re discovered after the doors and hardware are on-site, so it’s important to stay current on the requirements...

Decoded: Fair Housing Act (October 2014)

August 10th, 2014|1 Comment

A common misconception is that the Fair Housing Act applies only to federally-funded housing projects, but according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, “The Fair Housing Act requires all ‘covered multifamily dwellings’ designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Covered multifamily dwellings are all dwelling units in buildings containing four or more units with one or more elevators, and all ground floor units in buildings containing four or more units, without an elevator.”

Decoded: Calculating the Occupant Load (September 2014)

July 8th, 2014|56 Comments

Many code requirements are dependent upon the occupant load of the room or space in question. For example, the International Building Code (IBC) requires panic hardware for doors equipped with a lock or latch, which serve Assembly or Educational occupancies with an occupant load of 50 or more (the occupant load limit for NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code is 100 or more)...

The Effect of Oversized Clearances on Fire Door Tests (August 2014)

June 17th, 2014|7 Comments

Rectifying clearance problems can be difficult and costly, so it may be tempting to leave non-compliant doors in place and assume that a little extra clearance won’t affect the performance of the fire door assembly; I can now say from first-hand experience that this is not true...

Decoded: Use Groups and Occupancy Classifications (July 2014)

May 15th, 2014|6 Comments

In Chapter 3, the IBC defines each “use group” and NFPA 101 - Chapter 6 describes each “classification of occupancy.” Both terms describe how the building or a portion of the building will be used, and each of these codes contain requirements specific to certain uses...

Decoded: Key-Operated Locks (Updated December 2017)

April 10th, 2014|8 Comments

I need some help from you...a nice clear photo of a door with the signage described below, as well as the indicator lock. If you have seen one of these in your local area, I'd really appreciate some help with these photos...

Construction Specifier

Construction Specifier: Battling the Barricade

August 23rd, 2016|7 Comments

In the wake of any tragedy, society struggles collectively to process the loss. For some it is the loss of friends and loved ones, but for most it is our feelings of safety and trust in the overall goodness of our fellow man that are diminished or seemingly lost entirely. In their place, we are filled with an overwhelming desire to do something...

Construction Specifier: Hazards of Traditional Wired Glass

July 16th, 2015|7 Comments

(Note: If you're in the St. Louis area, there is a school security seminar coming up on July 22th, and there's still space if you want to attend.) Today's post: I haven't posted much about traditional wired glass lately, but the hazard continues to be present in existing schools and other facilities...

Life Safety Digest

Multi-Family Fire Door Safety – The Role of Fire Doors

April 24th, 2014|15 Comments

Fire door assemblies play a vital role in the protection of life safety, yet many people remain unaware of their existence. We pass through these doors every day in commercial, institutional, and multi-family residential buildings. A lack of awareness...

Fire Door Inspection – Top 10 Deficiencies

October 5th, 2012|18 Comments

This article was originally published in the Summer 2012 issue of Life Safety Digest, a publication of the Firestop Contractors International Association (FCIA).  The article has been revised slightly to reference more recent codes.

Locksmith Ledger

Locksmith Ledger: What’s a fire door for?

May 29th, 2018|4 Comments

When I first started working in the door and hardware industry, I learned all about the rules that apply to fire doors, but I didn’t fully appreciate the value of a closed door during a fire.

Code Implications for Mechanical Hardware

June 9th, 2014|6 Comments

Locksmiths are often called upon to increase security at an existing door or replace hardware that is damaged or defective. There are several code-related issues to note before getting started...