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

Decoded: Controlled Egress Locks

January 30th, 2024|0 Comments

This month’s question is a common one related to egress doors in memory care units.  If you have a code question you’d like to see answered in my column, you can submit it by clicking the link in today's post.

Decoded: Stairwell Reentry

December 12th, 2023|0 Comments

The next article in my Decoded series addresses clarifications to the 2024 model codes related to stairwell reentry.  These requirements ensure that building occupants can leave a stairwell if it becomes compromised during a fire.

Model Code Update on Swinging Door Openings

November 27th, 2023|1 Comment

I recently taught an interactive code update class for an enthusiastic and competitive group of conference attendees, and I'm sharing some of the information from that session in this article, so everyone can benefit from what was covered in the presentation.

Decoded: Flush Bottom Rails

October 23rd, 2023|3 Comments

As I'm reviewing and updating these Decoded articles, I can't believe that some of them were originally written more than 12 years ago.  Hopefully they will continue to be a valuable resource for another 12 years and beyond!

Decoded: Closers on Classroom Doors

October 16th, 2023|4 Comments

Questions about door closers on classroom doors have been coming up frequently, so I have updated this Decoded article to reflect the current code requirements. What are you seeing in the field? Closers, or no closers?

Decoded: Special Locking Arrangements

August 21st, 2023|0 Comments

Electrified hardware causes a lot of confusion regarding the applicable code requirements, but understanding one concept would help to clear up many of the misinterpretations: Is every opening with electrified hardware considered a "special locking arrangement"?

Decoded: Deadbolts in a Means of Egress

June 22nd, 2023|19 Comments

Are deadbolts permitted by code in a means of egress?  A surprising number of people would answer "no", but deadbolts are allowed under certain circumstances.  I have updated this Decoded article based on the current codes.

Decoded: Unlatching a Door for Egress

June 15th, 2023|1 Comment

In the next Decoded article I have answered the following frequently asked question: When is it permissible for an egress door to have hardware that requires more than one releasing motion to unlatch the door?

Decoded: Fire Door Closing Cycle

May 8th, 2023|2 Comments

When testing a fire door to determine whether it is closing and latching properly, from what open position should the door be tested? I have updated this Decoded article about the closing cycle of fire doors for positive latching, to reflect the current codes.

Decoded: Sensors for Automatic Operators

February 28th, 2023|0 Comments

This Decoded column, which will be published in the April issue of Door Security + Safety Magazine, is the first in a new question-and-answer format. In the past 13 years I’ve covered just about every code-related topic that applies to openings, so it's time for a new approach.

Decoded: Access Control Update

August 29th, 2022|2 Comments

My next Decoded column addresses important code clarifications related to electrified hardware used in access control systems.  I hope this article will help with more consistent interpretations of the requirements.

Decoded: Key-Operated Locks

July 22nd, 2021|9 Comments

If this article looks familiar, you've been reading iDigHardware for a long time.  🙂  I last wrote a Decoded article on this topic in 2014, but the requirements have changed, so here's an update.

Decoded: Safe and Secure Schools

March 23rd, 2021|4 Comments

My next Decoded article focuses on safety requirements to consider while addressing school security.  And while we're on the subject, Safe and Sound Schools is conducting their 4th survey on the National State of School Safety, and I invite you to participate.

Decoded: Corridor Doors in Health Care Occupancies

March 11th, 2021|36 Comments

Past fires in hospitals and nursing homes - and the resulting fatalities - have shaped the codes that we use today.  Although today’s codes do not typically require patient room doors to be fire door assemblies, these doors provide a critical layer of protection for patients.

Door Security + Safety: Best of 2020

December 24th, 2020|2 Comments

A digital "Best of 2020" edition of Door Security + Safety has just been published, and it includes one of my feature articles as well as one of my Decoded columns, along with other informative articles, columns, and videos.  I'll be back on January 4th!

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

June 24th, 2019|3 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: Manually-Operated Sliding Doors

March 5th, 2018|19 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: Locations for Vision Lights and Viewers

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

October 19th, 2017|49 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|13 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

May 25th, 2017|9 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: Stairwell Reentry

October 27th, 2016|26 Comments

This is one of the code issues I receive the most questions about, so it's the topic of my next Decoded column. Let me know if I didn't answer all of your questions. 🙂

Decoded: Dwelling Unit & Sleeping Unit Entrance Doors

September 15th, 2016|3 Comments

According to the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, most doors in a means of egress are required to unlatch with one releasing operation. One exception to this rule is when a door leads to a residential dwelling unit or sleeping unit...

Decoded: Small Assembly Occupancies

June 13th, 2016|8 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: Change to BHMA Standard for Exit Devices

March 14th, 2016|1 Comment

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

January 11th, 2016|9 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|20 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|1 Comment

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: Screen Doors and Doors in a Series

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...

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

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

December 31st, 2014|14 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

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

July 8th, 2014|81 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

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: Key-Operated Locks

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

Locksmith Ledger

Security Sales and Integration