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Panic Hardware on Electric Rooms

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE 2014 NATIONAL ELECTRIC CODE.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE NEW ARTICLE. Beginning with the 2002 edition, the National Electric Code (NFPA 70) requires that certain types of electric rooms have doors that open in the direction of egress and are “equipped with panic bars, […]

Time-Out Lock

One of our customers sent me this photo last week.  It was found on a psychiatric facility and to operate it, a staff member must be present and holding the bolt projected via the lever.  I did my best to track down a manufacturer with no luck.  It’s possible that it was made in a […]

New Requirements for Nightclubs in Massachusetts

In the Good Old Days when I was a more frequent nightclub visitor, I remember trying to exit through a club’s main entrance at closing time and encountering a locked door. The manager had locked the door to prevent more people from coming in. The vestibule was dark, and the dark bronze storefront door had […]

One Motion Egress

I saw this homemade security device on a local high school a few years ago.  The school had been having trouble with their computer lab door, and this was their solution – a bent bar in 2 hasps welded to the door.  This is not code-compliant, as the codes require one motion to exit under […]

Single Bathroom Locksets

I’ve been asked this question so many times you’d think I’d know the answer by now.  By the way…the photo at left doesn’t have much to do with the question, I just think it’s funny. Yesterday I was having lunch with my hardware friend and mentor, I’ll call him Maxwell*.  Maxwell asked me whether a […]

Max Headroom

Remember him?  I guess I’m dating myself if I admit that I do since he made his debut in the mid- to late-80’s, right around the time that Bill Lawliss, John Gant, and I all graduated with degrees in Architecture from Vermont Technical College.  Just think where we could be now if we took those […]

Dormitory Locks

The hot topic of last week was how to handle locks on dormitory entrance doors, since the students have figured out how to reach under the door with a coat hanger and pull down the lever to unlock the door.  There’s a minute+ of bad video below to illustrate the procedure, as reenacted by a […]

Roof Doors

The locking requirements for roof doors are a bit of a gray area, due to the varied preferences of local code officials. In most cases, the roof door can be locked on the interior side, preventing access to the roof. It is very rare (except in movies) that the egress plan for the building includes […]

Fail Safe Locks

I didn’t want to scare anyone by adding more information to my previous post about stairwell re-entry, but I do get questions about how to accomplish this.  The stairwell re-entry requirements state that the stair side lever must unlock on fire alarm or on a signal from the fire command station depending on the code […]


Did you know that if you register with NFPA (free), you can access the NFPA codes and standards online? Just use this link to register or sign in. Once you’re registered, go to the list of NFPA Codes & Standards, choose the document you’d like to see, and scroll to the bottom of the screen where […]

Exit Enclosure

My last post referenced the term “exit enclosure”, and I received a few questions about its meaning.  An exit enclosure is the enclosure around an exit.  For our purposes it usually refers to a stairwell.  According to the IBC, exit enclosures connecting 4 or more stories require a 2-hour fire resistance rating, and those connecting […]

High Security Dogging

I think this photo speaks for itself.  I just love the creativity and the lengths people will go to with these modifications.  It’s kind of sad that I get my kicks from looking at doors gone wrong, but admit it…you do too! I’ve had this picture for a really long time and I can’t remember […]

Astragals with Vertical Rod Panics

An astragal is a piece of molding used on a pair of doors or between the top and bottom leaves of a Dutch door, to provide security, protect against weather conditions, prevent light or sound transmission, or to retard the passage of smoke, flame, or gases during a fire.  On a Dutch door the astragal is […]

NFPA Journal Door Inspection Article

There’s an article in the May/June 2009 issue of the NFPA Journal about the inspection of egress doors and fire doors.  You can access the article here.  It’s an excellent overview of the inspection requirements found in the 2009 Edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code.  According to NFPA 101 – 2009, the […]

Clear Opening Width

Back in the 80’s, there was a lot of confusion about how to measure the clear opening width of doors. The codes and standards weren’t clear, so on doors with panic devices the fire marshals were looking for 32″ between the panic device and the stop on the strike jamb.  As each code and standard […]

Violators Will Be Fined!

When a delayed egress lock is used on an egress door, the codes require signage instructing the building occupant to “PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS, DOOR CAN BE OPENED IN 15 SECONDS.” When the code official approves a 30-second delay, the signage must reflect that increase.  At least the signage on this egress door (yes, there […]

All Aboard!

Yesterday we drove from Front Royal, Virginia to Grassy Cove, Tennessee, which is a VERY long drive.  We usually plan on stopping somewhere for the kids to burn off some energy, and yesterday’s stop was at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke.  I can find an interesting (to me) hardware application just about anywhere, […]

“For a Quick Exit, Just Block the Fire Door”

Wait a minute – WHAT??? For several months I’ve been trying to find out more about the research that was conducted years ago regarding the use of a mullion on a pair of doors.  It could be one of those urban legends of door hardware, but as the story goes, when a university tested egress through a […]

More on Clear Opening Width

Honestly, I do NOT have a bathroom obsession.  It’s just a coincidence that once again, a code question came up regarding a bathroom door. You know how sometimes you just know something, and then someone questions you and then you start to question yourself?  That’s what happened yesterday. I was creating some hardware sets for […]

Less Bottom Rod Pair (LBR)

Last week I posted a photo of a double egress pair I saw on a recent site visit, and asked “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” regarding the photo on the bottom right.  I received quite a few correct answers and some good guesses. The plastic on the armor plates, while distracting and ugly, is not […]

Elevator Lobby Egress

Fair warning…this is going to be one of those posts that makes your eyes glaze over, especially if you haven’t had your coffee yet.  But since I’ve seen several people come to my site looking for this information and leaving without it, I need to post about it before the next person comes looking.  I’ll try to […]

Is this your idea of *fun*??

I just said to my husband, “I’ve got to post something *fun* on the blog tonight.”  I figured that after a couple of very technical, code-heavy posts, we all needed a break.  He looked at me like I had two heads…I guess this isn’t his idea of fun. So here it is…door and hardware fun. I saw […]

Restaurant Egress

I’d be rich if I had a dime for every time I explained that panic hardware is required for Assembly and Educational occupancies with an occupant load of more than 100 people (per IBC 2000 or 2003, NFPA 101) or more than 50 people (per IBC 2006 or 2009).  Well, maybe I’d just have a bunch of […]

Panic Hardware on Balanced Doors

Last week, someone asked me about code requirements related to panic hardware on balanced doors.  (If you’re not sure what a balanced door is, there’s a good explanation here.)  The project in question is in Israel, and apparently the code requirements there do not include any specific requirements for panic hardware on balanced doors.  However, […]


That’s the question I was asked on Friday…“If someone orders a delayed egress exit device or delayed egress mag-lock, when do they need the ‘BOCA’ feature?” Incidentally, the person who asked me the question was one of my college classmates. There are actually a few graduates of Vermont Technical College who ended up in the […]

Means of Egress Reliability

A while back I posted a photo of an egress door in an indoor soccer arena, which had nets hanging in front of it.  I asked my blog visitors to comment on whether they thought the application was code-compliant or not. The general consensus was that it was not code-compliant but I wanted to find […]

Indicator Deadbolt

I know I just mentioned bathroom door hardware yesterday so maybe this will be the start of another series.  🙂 Almost every week someone asks me about the use of deadbolts on bathroom doors, often because they want to use an indicator deadbolt, like the Falcon D271 (right).  I saw an application recently at Harvard, […]

Not an Exit

This sign is on the OUTSIDE of a door on the gas station I frequent.  I can’t think of any reason it would be important to know that nobody will be exiting out of that door (UPDATE:  Check out the comments for some interesting insight from a fire marshal.), but it did make me wonder […]

History Repeats Itself, Again

Once again, failure to follow fire safety and egress code requirements in a nightclub has resulted in a fire with multiple fatalities.  The death toll from the December 4th fire at the Lame Horse in Perm, Russia currently stands at 112 with more than 100 people severely injured. According to news reports, plastic sheeting decorated […]

Wicked Restroom Doors

It’s been 40 days since I’ve mentioned a ladies room, and I just saw an application that I can’t resist posting about. I played hooky today with my daughter and a friend to go see a production of Wicked at the Providence Performing Arts Center.  We arrived as the show was about to start, but […]

Same Hotel, Different Day

Luckily, we are safely home and the hotel didn’t catch on fire, but I did take a quick tour of the place before we left.  Almost none of the fire doors that I looked at were code-compliant, and I wasn’t being nitpicky. The door to our room had spring hinges and would not latch even […]

<90 Degrees

I haven’t posted for a few days because I’ve been working on my new FDAI presentation and various other things, but I’m kind of excited about this post because it answers a question that has been floating around for years.  Ok…maybe “excited” is the wrong word, but I really enjoy crossing things off the “grey […]

<90 Degrees, Not So Fast

My last post was about the method of measuring the clear opening width of a door that doesn’t open to 90 degrees.  After reading the codes and the commentaries and having several discussions with someone from the ICC, I posted a graphic of a 32″ cylinder passing through the opening, as described by the ICC. […]

Costa Rican Egress / Fire Protection

The hotel with the treacherous handicap ramp (see previous post) was actually a very nice little hotel, but it had some other code-related issues.  I think all of the issues stem from the lack of stringent building codes in Costa Rica, but they’re still a little scary for travelers who happen to be door hardware consultants. Our room […]

More Costa Rican Egress

When we drove through Santa Elena, we noticed a restaurant with a tree growing up through the middle of it.  It looked pretty cool, so we headed there for lunch after our 3-hour morning hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and before our afternoon hike at the Selvatura Hanging Bridges. (On the verge of […]

Stephens Court, Calcutta India

This building in Calcutta was involved in a fatal fire today, with 24 deaths reported so far and additional people still missing.  The top floors of the building had been added illegally, but the building owner paid a fine and all was forgiven.  The fire department reportedly had never inspected the building. Each section had […]

Stairwell Doors

I think I’ve seen so many non-code-compliant doors that I’m becoming numb to them.  In the old days I would be spurred into action by the sight of a blocked exit or propped-open fire door.  Yesterday I was at the local bagel joint and I saw their marked emergency exit blocked with stored high-chairs.  No […]

Hotel Meeting Rooms

It’s a little scary how excited I get when I find photos in my inbox…mostly because it makes the subsequent post pretty easy and I don’t have to try to make the doors I see during my own wanderings meaningful.  I received these photos from one of our esteemed trainers, who travels around teaching people […]

Construction Zone

I know you’re probably anxious for me to get back to the smoke series, but it’s Mothers’ Day so I’m going to take one more day off.  Instead I’m posting the photos below, which I took yesterday at the local college campus center.  Our school was using their function room for a fundraiser, and this […]

FDAI Speed Dating

Tonight I attended the local DHI chapter meeting, where I was one of the presenters in a “cracker barrel” style presentation on fire door assembly inspection.  It was kind of like FDAI speed dating.  We had 6 tables, each with a different topic and 1 or 2 presenters per table, and the attendees cycled through […]

Sortie D’Urgence. Briser et Presser.

This is a new one.  Translation: “Emergency Exit. Break and Press.” I don’t think so. Photo courtesy of Pierre-André Couture , Consultant Solutions d’Ouvertures, St Nicolas Québec. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Every day I find a new excuse to avoid reading and writing about smoke doors.  I swear I’ll get back to them, but as construction gets rolling again we’re getting really busy. My latest excuse arrived via email this morning.  Some of my friends just went to Paris, and one of them sent me a […]

LAX Egress

It’s not very often that I see a news report about egress doors that don’t meet code requirements.  Considering the prevalence of the problem, it’s amazing to me that it doesn’t get more publicity, but then again, I’m a little more focused on the problem than the average citizen. Today is my lucky day because […]

Reader Photos

The good news is that these doors are being replaced, presumably with doors that will provide security without jeopardizing life safety.  The bad news is that this is a popular restaurant and their main entrance doesn’t come close to meeting the requirements for egress. I usually see cane bolts like this used to hold the […]

Reader Photos

Maybe I should have a new series called “Jeff Tock’s Photos.”  🙂  Jeff is one of the Ingersoll Rand trainers who travels the world teaching people about hardware, and he sees a lot of “special applications.”  Jeff sent me this group of photos recently (thanks Jeff!): This bank of doors is in a large convention […]

All Fixed!

My site has been moved to a new server so hopefully all of the technical difficulties are behind us and I can get on with the important stuff – DOORS!  🙂 If you find any glitches, broken links, etc., please let me know.  And if you need a new website or help with an existing […]

Planetarium Exit

When I need inspiration for what to write about and nobody has sent me a good code question that day, all I have to do is look back at my photos from family outings.  That’s sad, I know.  🙂 During the summer I took the kids to a children’s museum that had a planetarium.  The […]

Faux Stone

To finish up my spontaneous series on the children’s museum, here are a few of the faux-painted doors we saw there.  I think these are even harder to distinguish as doors (when they’re closed) than the planetarium exit. The doors in the second and third photos have an applied panel so the stone is not […]

What would you do?

I received the comment below on my post about the childrens’ museum doors with applied panels painted to look like stone.  It’s a good question, so I’m turning it into a post of its own. “Lori – What do you do when you find these doors?  Do you ever notify management/maintenance that these are a […]

The Coliseum

You wouldn’t think that a fair would be a great place for door-hunting, but I saw the doors below at The Big E last weekend.  There’s a lot going on here – sliding, folding, and swinging doors serving a giant assembly occupancy.  This reminds of many scenarios dreamed up by architects that I’ve advised strongly […]

Back to School

I received these photos last week and I didn’t have much advice…maybe someone else does.  These are classroom doors in a school for autistic children, and the extra locksets are due to the special needs of the students.  The students are unable to retract both latches at the same time (if they can even reach […]

Good News / Bad News

First the good news.  When the annual DHI conference was held in Boston, I conducted a 3-hour code class for architects (I later conducted the class for our DHI chapter.).  Public speaking isn’t my favorite thing to do, so when one of the attendees approached me before class started and said, “You’re not REALLY going […]

Surgical Suite Entry

I have been amazed and touched by the number of people who actually read my Good News/Bad News post all the way to the end and took the time to call or email me about my daughter’s surgery.  Thank you so much for your care and concern.  It has been a tough week and an […]

Rooftop Garden

As promised, I found quite a few interesting applications during our stay at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, which I will post here in the next few weeks.  I also received some reader photos in response to my plea for help in keeping this site supplied with posts that weren’t too time-consuming for me while my […]

2009 IBC / 8th Edition Mass Code

If you missed the New England Chapter DHI meeting last week…a Q&A presentation on codes, the question/answer document and the handout are now available on the chapter website.  You can download them here:  Q&A Document / Handout You also missed out on some great examples of why fire doors and egress doors should be inspected annually!    […]


My daughter Norah and I went to New Haven yesterday for what will hopefully be our last trip to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.  Thank you to everyone who has inquired about her…she’s doing great and is back to her old tricks. I saw this set of gates near the hospital and I immediately recognized that […]

Reader Photos

Here are some more reader photos that have recently hit my (e)mailbox… To continue our cruise ship theme, these photos were taken by Bill Negron of Lotspeich.  This is an automatic operator on a cruise ship that opens the door of an accessible bathroom stall.  The operator is concealed in the ceiling, and the arm […]

Trick or Tweet

Ellen DeGeneres cracks me up – even though she never talks about doors and I never have time to watch her show any more.  Recently, Ellen and I became Facebook friends, so I get random status updates from her show which often include videos.  I happened upon a video of when she sent one of her writers through […]

Courtyard Egress

A few weeks ago I did a post about egress from an occupied roof, and that reminded me to go back and dig out some courtyard photos I took a while ago.  When a courtyard is completely enclosed with no means of egress that leads directly to a public way, the path of egress is […]

Stay in School

I just noticed an article in the Edinburgh Evening News that was worth sharing.  No, I don’t make a habit of reading Scottish newspapers, but thanks to Google I see all kinds of news items involving fire doors. The article, entitled “Pupil, 5, Escapes From School,” was about a 5-year-old girl who left school through […]

Out to Lunch

I saw this door at a restaurant today.  The decor is meant to look like a garage, and it’s pretty cool – I especially liked the naked closers.  I did wonder about the main entrance door though.  It’s tough to tell from the photos, but the graphics from the wall run over the aluminum portions […]

Maverick Bars

I recently received this photo from Michael Wojnarowski of Builders Hardware, and it reminded me of a Powerpoint presentation I ran across a while back.  The presentation was created by the Anne Arundel County Fire Marshal Division – Code Enforcement Bureau, and the topic is Maverick Bars. I don’t think the security bars in this […]

Movie Night

A couple of weeks ago someone asked me whether the exterior exit doors for a movie theater required panic hardware, and in my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES!  Movie theaters are considered assembly occupancies, and the occupant load is well over the limit (50 or 100 occupants depending on the code) that would […]

Double Cylinder Deadlocks – Residential

I don’t get involved with residential construction very often, but a local locksmith recently asked about the use of double-cylinder deadlocks on single family homes.  His position is that he will not install them, but he was looking for a code reference to back him up. When I checked the Massachusetts One and Two Family […]

Cocoanut Grove & Our Lady of the Angels

When I teach a code class, I often begin by talking about some of the tragic fires that have shaped today’s codes.  Because of the lessons learned from these fires and the code changes that resulted, the safety of building occupants has been greatly improved. I talk about the role that doors played in the […]

Exit? Really??

I received these photos from a fire inspector in Texas who shall remain nameless so he’ll keep sending me the crazy stuff he sees in his travels.  If you recall from earlier posts, an egress door has to look like a door, and can’t be disguised in any way.  This egress door is in a […]


When I started this blog, my goals were to organize all of the code information I had into a searchable database, and to offer a more painless way to learn about hardware.  I think one of the hardest things about starting out in this industry is the way most of us learn about it – […]

Decoded: NFPA 72 on Access Control (December 2010)

This post was printed in the December 2010 issue of Doors and Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Someone brought this to my attention yesterday and I thought there had to be a mistake. I was handed a slide from a recent presentation on NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm and […]

Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire

Fire doors and egress doors are critical for protecting life safety and property, and inspections can save lives.  The news reports speak for themselves: 26 killed in factory fire – 12/15/10 – The Daily Star “Witnesses said four out of seven exit staircases were closed. Desperate to flee the heat and smoke, some workers jumped […]

Reader Photos

I’m in the mood to clean house (figuratively speaking only), so here’s the latest collection of reader photos to hit my inbox.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send them.  More, please.  🙂 These are from Nolan Thrope of the Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies office in New York City (hover to […]

Unequal Pairs

I’ve talked about this before, but the question still comes up almost weekly – “What’s the code-compliant solution when replacing a pair of doors in a 5′-wide opening?” In the Olden Days, there were lots of 5′-wide pairs of doors (and various other widths less than 6′), but today’s codes require at least one leaf […]

Swimming Pool Egress

The kids have been enjoying the very cool indoor wave pool in our hotel, and I, of course, have been checking out the swimming pool egress.  My family thinks I’m weird, but what do they know? The pool enclosure has an area of 8,200 square feet, and swimming pools are considered Assembly occupancies.  According to […]

Iroquois Theater Fire

Today is the 107th anniversary of a tragedy at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago, which shaped the early codes and led to the invention of the panic device.  More than 600 people lost their lives in this fire, making it the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history. Article from […]

Assembly Egress

Hopefully you’re not getting sick of my vacation photos because I’ve got a few more.  This post has a special bonus at the end though – something I’ve NEVER seen before. This facility is an assembly occupancy which I’d estimate has an occupant load of a couple hundred people.  The main entrance has no door […]

Decoded: I-2 Special Egress Locks (January 2011)

This post was printed in the January 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] A while back I wrote a post about spending time in a maternity ward, which was a completely locked unit requiring remote release from the nurses’ station to exit.  Although the 2009 edition […]

Casino Wrap-Up

Considering how many photos I took of doors during my Mommy’s weekend at Foxwoods, it’s a good thing I’m not a gambler.  I wouldn’t have had any time to check out the doors if I was stuck at the slots.  I can’t imagine what Las Vegas will be like…I hope I don’t get arrested like […]

Reader Photos

I received a giant batch of photos today from a deputy fire marshal, and I could barely wait to post them.  Whenever I get photos or comments from code officials I feel like the nerdy kid who got to sit with the cool kids at lunch one day.  🙂 My favorite photo of the bunch […]

Theater Egress

Today I went to a performance at a theater on a local college campus.  The theater has 650 seats, so all of the required egress doors are supposed to have panic hardware.  There are 4 pairs in the main lobby, all equipped with paddle devices which don’t qualify as panic hardware.  One of the requirements […]

Decoded: Single Operation Egress (Updated December 2017)

This post was printed in the February 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware Updated December 2017 It’s hard to believe that this question still comes up as often as it does, so I’m hoping to definitively answer it once and for all.  The question is “Do single bathrooms require locks which release with one operation?” […]

WW: Curtains

On my Wordless Wednesday posts,  you can usually read about the photos by hovering your cursor over them.  It’s impossible for me to be completely wordless! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Anniversary

March 25th, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history (with the exception of 9/11) – a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in which 146 people were killed.  This tragedy will be the subject of an episode of the PBS series, American Experience, airing tomorrow – February […]

WW: Drill Press

I have TJ Gottwalt to thank for this Wordless Wednesday post.  Thanks TJ! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

An Army of Minions

Since I started this blog I’ve often thought how great it would be if JQP (John Q Public) knew the basic requirements of fire and egress doors.  What if everyone who saw a locked egress door or a propped-open fire door had a way to change the situation?  Imagine the effect this could have on […]

Reader Photos – 1 of 2

I’ve received lots of reader photos lately…thank you, and keep ’em coming! From Kurt Roeper of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, taken on his recent trip to China.  In the facility’s defense, iDigHardware seems to be blocked by the Great Firewall of China, so it’s no wonder they have hardware problems.  The first photo is of […]

Which way to the exit?

I wrote this post on Saturday but because of technical difficulties I couldn’t get it uploaded until now.  Sorry! We headed south on our road trip today, and after hours of traffic and extremely heavy rain we stopped at a mall in New Jersey to let the kids get out of the car for a […]

Leather-Wrapped Doors

I was recently elected as a town meeting member for my town (a pretty large town – 68,000 people), and tonight I attended my first-ever town meeting.  It was pretty interesting to see government in action, but I also found time to hunt down some old doors for you all. You don’t see these old leather-wrapped […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Feeling the Heat: Fire Doors – “Incorrectly specified fire doors could, at worst, cost lives. Now a landmark legal case could mean that it’s the contractor and specifier who will end up in court.” Ten dead in Delhi factory fire, all exits were blocked – Indo-Asian News Service “Prima facie it appears that the […]

WW: Conservatory Egress

Photo submitted by Kurt Roeper of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Decoded: New Occupant Load Requirements for Panic Hardware (May 2011)

This post was printed in the May 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware [Click here to download a reprint of this article.] I started studying code requirements related to hardware in the mid-90’s, and I decided to conduct a little “survey” to see if my fellow hardware consultants could benefit from having a resource for […]

Reader Photos

I’m still spending my Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday nights at town meeting, so I REALLY appreciate all of the great photos that have been sent in lately. Here are a couple of Schlage keypad locks, sent in by Steve Hornyak of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.  I love these locks and I have one on my front door, but […]

Town Hall Entrance

Can you believe I’m STILL attending town meeting 3 nights per week for 3 hours each?  This was our 10th night and it will take a few more to get through all of our warrant articles.  I’m sorry if I’ve been less productive than usual – I’m spending my blogging hours doing my civic duty.  […]

WWYD? – Restaurant Egress (Again)

I’d love to know who did this, so I can give them a good talking-to (maybe they’ll read this and track me down like the semi-concealed closer installer). This photo was taken in a restaurant by one of my coworkers.  The tables and chairs are blocking the door, and someone trying to exit would have […]

Carteret Arms, Trenton NJ

Still plagued by problems: Nearly a year after new ownership, troubled city apartment buildings remain in bad state – 5/29/11 “TRENTON — Block lettering on the emergency exits at the tops of the four stairwells in the Carteret Arms apartment building warns: ‘Tenants and guests are not permitted on roof.’  One of the doors, […]

Reader Photos

All of today’s reader photos came from my compañeros at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies: From Tim Weller, a door which requires 3 motions (and a key!) to exit…a knob, an exit alarm, and a key-operated deadbolt.  If this is a required means of egress, the codes require a single motion and no prior knowledge to […]

WWYD? – Pediatric Unit Egress Doors

Last week I posted a photo of a deadlock on a pair with panic hardware, and I included a poll to find out what you all thought should be done about the problem.  I received some photos yesterday that gave me the idea to make this a regular feature of the blog – “What Would […]

Rainy Relay

<—  You know what that’s a photo of???  Rain – torrential rain, at our Relay for Life event this weekend.  It rained on and off for most of the relay, but it was REALLY bad at night.  Even the die-hard high school kids in the campsite next to ours ended up sleeping in a friend’s […]

Hotel Vendome Fire, Boston

Today is the 39th anniversary of the fire at the Hotel Vendome, in which 9 firefighters lost their lives when the building unexpectedly collapsed during mop-up operations.  Stephanie Schorow, author of 4 books about Boston, spoke about the Hotel Vendome fire, the Cocoanut Grove fire, and the Great Boston Fire of 1872 in this video […]

Ogunquit, Maine

We headed to Ogunquit, Maine for Father’s Day…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! There are plenty of picturesque doors in Ogunquit, with narrow pairs being a very common sight. After a brief thunderstorm we saw two rainbows!  Here’s one of them. Another example of obstructed egress in a restaurant… While I was […]

Chinese Restaurant Egress

I first saw this door a few weeks ago but I was late for a meeting, so I hunted it down again.  It’s the rear exit from a Chinese restaurant – I didn’t go inside to check out the situation, but even if it’s just an exit from the kitchen it still doesn’t meet the […]

Blocked Egress Routes

We’re currently on our Summer 2011 Road Trip and I’m on the hunt for doors of interest, but so far I’m seeing more sights like this: But you’re in luck! Right before I left I got a huge batch of photos from Deputy Fire Marshal Daniel Wiltse, of the Bluffton Township Fire District in South […]

Hershey, Pennsylvania Egress

We’re on the last leg of our road trip and will be home today, so here’s a quick post to tide you over.  I have lots more photos to share and the fact that they won’t be chronologically presented offends my orderly side, but so be it. Yesterday we were in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and we […]

Egress Doors in the News

It’s not often you find the variety of egress-related news stories that I’ve seen lately, so I compiled a few here for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy! Once in a while, fire doors and egress doors get some attention from a sensational story that captures the public’s interest (like the one about the voo-doo ritual a […]

WW: Ontario Fishing Lodge Security

These photos were taken by Ted Wightman of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, at a fishing lodge in a remote area of Ontario, Canada.  I wonder who they were trying to keep out…the bears? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Going Nowhere

This photo was sent in by Kathi Frelk of Anderson Lock (check out their blog!).  It’s perfect for Wordless Wednesday because I have no words for this application.  Well, I guess I could say that two rim devices with a removable mullion would have been a much more secure application, but would anyone listen? Thanks Kathi! You […]

WW: Hospital Applications

These photos were sent in by Nolan Thrope of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.  He said they had the velcro version of wander-prevention on numerous doors.  What say you? Thanks Nolan! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Social Media Roundup

Here are some links to recent door-related social media activity.  Enjoy! Check out Ginny Powell‘s blog post about attending an electrified hardware class and putting the information to good use on A Cracked Door. Life Safety Services tweeted this news story about fire door problems and other code violations at Campus Habitat. David Stutzman has […]

WW: Ridglea Theater, Fort Worth TX

These photos were sent in by Morriss Johnson of CMA, the architectural firm working on the renovation of the Ridglea Theater.  The first two photos are nice, but I LOVE the one of the pair.  And YES, it is a required egress door. Thanks Morriss!! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Reader Photos

Here’s the latest batch of photos sent in by blog readers.  Thanks everyone! The photos were sent in by Jim Bystry of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, and were sent to him by Randy Roberts of Chown Hardware.  Have any of you seen a lock like this?  Tell us about it!  [I was originally told that […]

WW: Auction House Egress

These were sent in by Mary Hinton of Mulhaupt’s Inc. Can you imagine trying to exit from this “auction house” (junk shop) in an emergency?  Their front door lever needs some help too.  This might have been the first signal to get back in the car and keep driving! I posted these photos on the […]

WWYD? – Police Station

One of my favorite job-related activities is going into a facility and helping with their hardware problems.  This week I was called into a police station to look at a door that had allowed several escapes, as well as the main entrance.  I thought it would be fun to see what you all would recommend […]

Decoded: Stairwell Reentry – Myths & Facts (September 2011)

This post was printed in the September 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article (caution – updates have been made to this article which are not included in the reprint).] Stairwell doors are often locked on the stair side to prevent unauthorized entry into tenant spaces.   […]

WW: Doubly-Safe? Or Double-Trouble?

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo was sent in by David Sochaczevski, an architect with the Soltron Group in Montreal.  David saw this door near the Stitch ride in Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  At first glance this application clearly looks like a code problem, but I just couldn’t imagine Disney purposely installing hardware that would require two motions […]

Imperial Foods Fire, Hamlet NC

Twenty years ago today, a fast-moving fire at the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant killed 25 and injured 54 of the 90 workers in the plant.  Although I think egress conditions and awareness have improved in the last 20 years, there’s definitely room for continued improvement.  I frequently receive photos of appalling egress and fire […]

WW: No Exit

These are the photos that I referred to in my post about Imperial Foods and the locked/blocked exits there.  These photos were taken last week, illustrating that there’s still work to be done in awareness of egress requirements.  This is a 7-story office building, and one of the two exits was closed off because of […]


I can’t believe it has been 10 years already.  I’ve seen a lot of remembrances in the media this week…it’s one of those moments in time when we’ll never forget where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, how we felt.  I was about 6 weeks away from having my first child, […]

WW: Blocked Exits

This multitude of blocked exit photos was sent by Ian Childs of New Directions in Building Services, Sydney Australia.  I think I may need to go thank Ian in person.  🙂   You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Shiloh Baptist Church Panic, Birmingham Alabama

On this day in history, September 19th, 1902, a stampede at the Shiloh Baptist Church resulted in the deaths of 120 people.  The church was clearly over occupant load capacity with thousands packed in to hear Booker T Washington speak, but I wonder about the available exits.  Did the occupants rush the entrance door because […]

WW: Honky-Tonk Egress

I received a lot of vacation photos this summer, including these from my pal Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd in Israel, who apparently spent 5 weeks in the U.S. but didn’t stop by to visit me.  😉 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

“¿Donde estan los churros?”

This weekend I left my computer at home (yes, really!) and headed to Cape Cod for my brother’s wedding.  The wedding was held in North Truro, and the kids had heard me say several times that we were going to “Truro.”  Well, my kids go to a bilingual school and are fluent in Spanish.  All […]

Decoded: Luminous Egress Path Markings (Updated August 2017)

This post was printed in the October 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware Updated August 2017 Requirements for  luminous egress path markings (NFPA 101 calls them “Exit Stair Path Markings”) were first added to the 2009 editions of the International Building Code, the International Fire Code, and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. These […]

Decoded: Roof Access and Egress (Updated August 2017)

This post was printed in the November 2011 issue of Doors & Hardware Updated August 2017 I continuously receive questions regarding roof doors – specifically whether free access is required from the stairwell to the roof, and whether free egress is required from the roof to the stairwell.  The codes don’t address roof doors in […]

Reader Photos

It warms my heart when someone says, “I saw this door and I thought of you.”  🙂  That’s what Angie Sutton of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies wrote when she sent me this photo of an old vault door on a storage room at the county courthouse: Travis Willis of American Direct sent this photo of […]

Decoded: Delayed Egress Hardware – Code Comparison (January 2012)

This post was printed in the January 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Delayed egress hardware prevents a door from being opened from the egress side, usually for a period of 15 seconds. This type of device is often used to prevent theft, while maintaining life […]

Panic Hardware Visibility

If you went to hardware school (like me), then you were taught that egress doors have to be visible and have an obvious method of operation, right?  Well, every so often the question comes up regarding visibility of panic hardware, usually because someone wants to match the finish of a Von Duprin Inpact device to […]

WW: Everywhere I Go

I think I may need therapy. I was looking for a specific photo on my phone and here’s what I found instead.  As I was taking almost all of these photos, there was a friend, child, or stranger looking at me like I was weird.  🙂 A blocked exit at the craft show in the […]

Social Media Roundup

There have been a lot of interesting door-related stories in the news lately.  In case you missed my Tweets… Boy trapped in school stairwell for 9 hours – KTLA ” ‘It is normal for the door to be padlocked but it has to happen after the last person exits the building,’ Fernando Gallard of the […]

WW: Going Nowhere

This photo was sent in by Pat Bond of Shanahan’s in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.  Thanks Pat! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Theater Egress

I just returned from our mini-vacation over the holiday weekend, and I found it ironic that both of these news articles appeared in my inbox at the same time: Theater fire 200 years ago claimed 72 lives – Richmond Times-Dispatch – 12/26/2011 “With a single narrow staircase to the box seats and only three exits […]

WW: Blocked Exit Sensor

I saw this application twice in one week…the exit sensor for the mag-lock mounted behind the exit sign. It definitely affects the range of the sensor.  The code requirements for mag-locks do not address exact placement of the sensor, but this seems like common sense, no? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this […]

Reader Photos

I have spent this entire week at our corporate office, so I haven’t had a lot of time for posting.  In return for your patience, next week I will post the third and final article from Lewis C. Norton’s “How I Discovered Door Checks.”  That seems fair, right? I’m here in Carmel with about a […]

Code Requirements for Electromagnetic Locks

This article was published in the February 2012 issue of the Locksmith Ledger: An electromagnetic lock is essentially an electromagnet in a housing mounted on the door frame, and a steel armature mounted on the door. When the magnet is energized, it bonds to the armature and locks the door. To allow access or egress, […]

FDAI – Florida

The 2010 Florida Fire Prevention Code, effective December 31, 2011, requires fire doors to be maintained in accordance with NFPA 80 and references the 2007 edition of that standard in Chapter 2 – Referenced Publications.  The 2007 edition of NFPA 80 requires fire door assemblies to be inspected annually as part of the maintenance requirements, […]

Prison Egress

Earlier this week I read several news reports of a disastrous fire in an overcrowded Honduras prison, where hundreds of prisoners died.  Many of them remained locked in their cells because there was reportedly only one staff member who had keys to the cells, and he left in the midst of the panic.  It made […]

Road Trip – Cape Cod

It’s school vacation week and we took the kids to the Cape for a few days.  Here are some of the doors we’ve seen on our trip. The kids are AMAZED by the dollar bills taped all over the hotel bar.  The bartender told me that there are more than 10,000 bills. This windmill is […]

Battleship Cove – Fall River, Massachusetts

Whenever we’re on a family road trip, we try to find cool places to stop along the way to break up the ride.  Today we went to Battleship Cove, the world’s largest historic naval ship exhibit.  The museum is home to the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the USS Lionfish submarine, the battleship USS […]

WWYD: A Little Help Here?

Today is the 3rd anniversary of iDigHardware (aka iHateHardware)!  WOOHOOOO!!! If you were wondering what to send as an anniversary gift, all I want is your experience and expertise.  I have had several questions lately that I could use your help with.  I am always amazed by your willingness to add your two cents to […]

WW: Surface Bolts with Panic Hardware

By the time most of you read this it will be Thursday, but right now it’s Wordless Wednesday! Sent in by Steve Turner of Precision Doors and Hardware…a fairly common but definitely not code-compliant retrofit: Sent in by Steve Monroe of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies…the sign does not make this ok!  Anybody know why not? […]

Decoded: IBC – Electromagnetically Locked Egress Doors (March 2012)

This post was printed in the March 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] An electromagnetic lock is basically an electromagnet mounted in an enclosure on the frame head, with a steel armature mounted on the door. When the door is closed and the magnet is energized, […]

Reader Photos

How about some reader photos to ease you into the weekend? 😀 Jim Lenox of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies found a rescue hardware application I had never seen before.  Instead of a cased opening frame, the door is mounted on the stop.  Is this how they used to do a rescue hardware door in the […]

WW: Hockey Rink Egress

I was working on a different post but that one will have to wait.  I just received these photos, it’s Wordless Wednesday, and I am wordless (yes, again).  This is an exit for a hockey rink, sent in by an anonymous reader.  Hockey rinks are notoriously tough on their doors and hardware, but this “solution” […]

WW: Panic Attack

These buildings were ALL OCCUPIED when these photos were taken.  Depressing. From Jeff Bruno of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies: From Brendan Daley of Surveillance Specialties: From Wayne Ficklin of the Clark County Department of Aviation: From Nolan Thrope of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies: From Darren Patton of Isenhour Door: From Cliff Cohen of Armstrong Lock […]

WW: No Window? No Problem!

Sent in by Gary Goldberg of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies…this was so much easier than cutting a hole in the wall.  🙁 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Reader Photos

Thanks to y’all I’m never short of reader photos, and these photos leave me wordless…just in time for Wordless Wednesday! From David Chaffin of HARD/SPECS, some theater doors in his town with creative security devices: From Darren Patton of Isenhour Door…how does this happen?  If I was being sneaky, I would ditch the green tape. […]

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

A story arrived in my inbox today, regarding the tradition of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  The day before Easter each year, clerics emerge from the small room believed to be the site of Jesus’ tomb with a flame which is then spread among the pilgrims crowding the […]

Reader Photos

My friend Nolan Thrope of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies really knows how to make a girl cry: Now that I think about it, Jeff Tock of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies makes me cry too: I know Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd. is NOT responsible for any of these applications, but I love when he […]

ICC Code Hearings, Dallas

I realize that not everybody is as excited about new code developments as I am, but some of you might want to take a look or a listen…the code development hearings for the IBC/IFC are going on right now, and discussion on the Means of Egress proposals will be starting soon.  The webcast is very […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

The surprising and sad thing about these news stories that came across my desk this week is that none of these fatal fires were first-time occurrences.  Four people were killed in the Ontario retirement home fire that is the subject of a current inquest, but a total of 45 people have been killed in Ontario […]

Indoor Playground

I realize that I’m probably pickier than most when it comes to doors.  I notice things that almost nobody else does (except some of you!).  Well, I recently attended a preschool function at a local indoor playground, and I was shocked by what I saw.  The facility is relatively new and must have been inspected […]

Prevention Points: Ripped from the Headlines

Sometimes I feel like maybe I’m a little *too* passionate (borderline weird) when it comes to doors and their code issues.  Today I struggled with whether or not to call the fire marshal regarding the indoor playground I posted about earlier in the week.  At the urging of some AHJs in other parts of the […]

Everywhere I Go

As always, I’ve been noticing interesting doors everywhere I go… On this new grocery store, I saw a bank of doors with LCN 4040SEH holders, LCN 4041 closers, and Von Duprin 9927 panic hardware.  The SEH units caught my eye because they’re not that common.  The 4040SEH is an electric hold-open for use on fire […]

Qatar Mall Fire

This is why we have codes, and code officials.  A fire in an upscale shopping mall in Qatar has killed 19 people, including 13 children and 4 teachers from a child care center within the mall.  It is reported that the sprinkler system did not function, at least one staircase collapsed, floor plans were not […]

Everywhere I Go Again

More doors from my (local) travels… This is the main entrance to a bar in Boston.  I guess it’s not considered a nightclub, or it would have to comply with the revised requirements for nightclubs in Massachusetts.  The three locks are not code-compliant regardless, but I wonder how the codes define a nightclub.  Anyone know? […]

Keyes Life Safety Compliance

I met Brad Keyes a couple of years ago when he emailed me to ask about the requirements for the annual inspection of fire doors.  Since then, Brad has become my trusted resource on health care life safety requirements.  He has started a blog for his health care consulting firm (, and covers various topics […]

WW: Visible Exit?

What do you think of this exit from a large Assembly occupancy in England?  Are the operable doors visible enough for egress purposes? Photo posted with permission from Hot Goméz, via Flickr. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Science Museum

My youngest daughter graduated from kindergarten today, so we played hookey and took her to the Museum of Science.  I didn’t forget about y’all though.  Here are a few photos from the trip. On the entrance and exit doors for the Butterfly Garden, strong fans have been installed above the doors to blow the butterflies […]

Decoded: Mounting Heights for Door Hardware (July 2012)

This post was printed in the July 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] My friend, Dick Barnhard, sent me a link so I could download all of the Steel Door Institute (SDI) standards at once – 308 pages!  What a nice Mothers Day gift to go […]

Cafeteria Door – Follow Up

Remember this door from my trip to the science museum last week?  I asked what was wrong with it and several of you had good ideas. This area of the cafeteria was closed and the doors were secure, so there are some things we don’t know.  We don’t know for sure if the doors are […]

Retail Store Entrance – Fire Doors?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that our annual Fathers Day tradition is to go to Ogunquit, Maine, walk along the Marginal Way, do some shopping, have lunch, and then play on the beach (here are some photos from last year). While we were there yesterday I saw the […]

WW: 15 Minutes to Freedom

If you don’t know why this sign leaves me wordless, read this post. Thank you to Brendan Daley of Surveillance Specialties for making my day. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Decoded: Fail Safe vs. Fail Secure – When and Where? (Updated February 2018)

This post was printed in the August 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware Updated February 2018 . This question comes up a lot… “When do I need to specify/supply/install fail safe electrified hardware and when should I choose fail secure?”  First, some basic definitions: Fail safe products are unlocked when power is removed.  Power is […]

Reader Photos

I’ll be posting some Moroccan door photos soon, but here are some reader photos to tide you over. From Brian Marris of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, a creative solution to a deep reveal, and a non-compliant exit. To stick with the theme, here’s another exit from Jim Princehorn of Business Protection Specialists.  The pile of […]

Decoded: Less Bottom Rod Fire Exit Hardware (September 2012)

This post was printed in the September 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware Vertical rod fire exit hardware is available with top and bottom rods and latches, or with the top rod and latch only – known as “less bottom rod” or “LBR” devices.   Eliminating the bottom rods and latches can help to meet accessibility […]

Decoded: Doors with Access Control (October 2012)

This post was printed in the October 2012 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Question:  I’m adding a card reader to a door in my facility.  Am I required to follow the code section called “Access Controlled Egress Doors” since I am adding access control to this […]

Q&A: Panic Hardware vs. Fire Exit Hardware

Question: What’s the difference between panic hardware and fire exit hardware?  And what’s an exit device? Answer: An exit device is the general term for panic hardware, a panic device, or fire exit hardware.  An exit device may be of the touchpad, crossbar, or recessed style, and it’s characterized by an actuating mechanism that spans […]

WWYD? Theater Security

As I read about the terrible movie theater tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I thought about things from a door hardware consultant’s perspective.  Could future tragedies be prevented by changing the way we think about the hardware on movie theater exits?  Because the suspect allegedly propped open the exit door so he could return during the […]

WWYD? Double-Egress Pair

This is an actual problem on a current project, and I’m hoping some of you will have ideas to help out.  The doors and a portion of the hardware have already been installed, and the remaining hardware is on-site.  It’s a double-egress pair in a health-care facility, and it is equipped with a system to […]

No Special Knowledge or Effort

Here’s a little something to enjoy with your morning coffee.  Most of us are aware of the requirement for egress doors to be able to be unlocked/unlatched without a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort, but sometimes this requirement is overlooked, especially when hardware is retrofitted on an existing door. The electromagnetic lock in […]

Q&A: Testing Delayed Egress Locks

Question:  Is there a code requirement for how often the delayed egress hardware in my facility must be tested? Answer:  The 2009 International Building Code (IBC) doesn’t include testing guidelines in section 1008.1.9.7 Delayed Egress Locks, but that makes sense because the IBC is used during construction and not for ongoing maintenance.  I checked the […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Free Webinar:  NFPA 80, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Swinging Fire Doors Sponsored by DHI, FDAI, Door Security & Safety Foundation, & Intertek August 28, 12:30 – 2:00 pm EST Building owners and managers, authorities having jurisdiction, and the fire door inspectors all have important roles and responsibilities in a building’s annual fire door inspection process. […]

WW: Emergency Lighting

In case you’re wondering, I do know that it’s not Wednesday, but I’m never actually Wordless either. Anybody see a problem here? This photo was sent to me by a fire marshal who shall remain nameless, but shall know that I appreciate him immensely! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Garment Factory Fire – Karachi, Pakistan

Since this blog began, it has had visitors from 165 countries.  I’ve been contacted by readers from outside of the United States, and have heard first-hand of door and hardware professionals in other countries using the site as a resource.  That amazes me. We’re lucky to have the strong codes and enforcement to protect us […]

WW: Zoo Exit

Whatcha think?  Is this exit visible enough? Here’s a closer look at the panic hardware: Photo sent in by Chris Ostwinkle of DH Pace.  Keep them coming! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Vertical (Not Vertical Rod) Panics

I couldn’t have said it better myself…“Mullion?  Who needs a mullion when you can just turn the exit devices 90 degrees?”  From Chris Steward of Steward Steel, by way of Jim Phillips of SBS Associates.   You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Here are some recent news stories you might be interested in reading… Daniel Ferraris, retired locksmith, sells NYC master keys on eBay – Huffington Post The Post cited two FDNY sources saying that one master firefighter key could send all the elevators in a building — any building — out of service, trapping thousands of […]

WW: Day Care Fire Exit

This is the emergency exit for a day care center, sent in by Dwight Isaacs of US Homeware Inc.  If you look closely, you’ll see that the latch is up near the top of the jamb post, out of reach of the kids.  This seems like it could be a viable solution, except that in […]

WW: Airport Emergency Exit

On my way to Tucson I had a layover, and every single emergency exit door was set up similar to this one.  Thoughts? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Decoded: Door Swing and Encroachment (Updated July 2017)

This post was printed in the January 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware Updated July 2017 What determines the direction in which a door must swing? According to the International Building Code (2015: 1010.1.2, 2012 and 2009: 1008.1.2), if a door is a required egress door, it generally needs to be a swinging door that […]

WW: Another Airport Exit

This is becoming a recurring theme.  I’ll be in a few airports later this week…maybe I’ll see some more. A big thank-you to Jim Princehorn of Business Protection Specialists, for risking TSA detainment and sending these photos.  😀 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Chinese Take-Out

I’m not going to post the name of the person who sent these photos in, because I contacted the restaurant and I don’t want them to see his name here and seek revenge the next time he places an order.  I got no response after sending two emails…I wonder if the fire marshal eats here. […]

Providence School Inspections (and more)

Although the schools in Providence, Rhode Island, are supposed to be inspected by code officials annually, some had not been inspected for 10 YEARS.  I wonder how many public schools are in the same boat? From News 10 In other news, a 2nd/3rd grade class at St. Theresa’s School got stuck in their classroom and […]

The Minister’s Treehouse – Crossville, Tennessee

I just returned from a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Grassy Cove, Tennessee.  If you’re a long-time reader of IDH, you may remember when I visited them way back in 2009 for the Chip Falcon Road Trip (my brother did the cycle testing). When we visited last year, my brother and I […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Bangladesh fire: Exit door locked – News 24 Dhaka – The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently “meant just to impress” inspectors and customers.  That is the picture survivors paint of the garment-factory fire on Saturday that killed 112 people who were trapped inside […]

WW: Bungee Cords

I can’t figure out whether these are providing security or acting as the door closers, but either way they leave me wordless! Thank you to Derek Ommert of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies for sending the photo! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Reader Photos

I have LOTS of reader photos that I haven’t had a chance to edit and post, so here’s the first batch!  Thank you for sending them, and keep them coming!  I’ll try to work faster in 2013! I received these photos from Mark Scanlan of New Hampshire Safe and Lock.  I guess this store needed […]

Everywhere I Go

I recently compiled my family’s annual photo book, and I found A TON of door photos in the process.  Here are a few doors I’ve seen in my travels… I spotted an egress problem at the local YMCA, and then noticed the issue at the fire-rated stair door.  This facility did a large renovation/addition a […]

WW: Retail Exit

Yesterday’s mall shootings in Oregon should serve as a reminder to be aware of the available exits regardless of where you are.  This door could be tough to navigate in an emergency. This photo was sent by Krista Christensen of ProAble Hardware Specialties. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WWYD? Safe and Secure Schools

I have been struggling with this post.  I can’t answer the question the world wants an answer to – How do we keep our kids safe and secure at school? There’s debate about access to guns, treatment for mental illness, violent video games, and the breakdown of the American family.  Beyond my own family, I […]

Early Christmas Present

I’m pretty sure I asked for a PAIR of boots for Christmas, but Santa must have misunderstood.  I ended up with one walking boot after falling off of running fountain while trying to take the perfect photo of a door for y’all.  OK…actually I stepped off a little lip in a walkway while checking into […]

WW: Banquet Room Pair

Some of you will no-doubt recognize these doors if you attend a certain monthly meeting that I attend as often as I can.  The meeting is held in one of several large banquet rooms in a restaurant, and they all have the same hardware installed.  If anyone is NOT sure why this is a problem, […]

Reader Photos

First, I need some help.  I’ve seen photos of this application a few times (including this one from Jim Jensen of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies), but what do you use to attach the two closers together?  Is it something that has to be custom made, or is there a standard part that can be repurposed […]

Architectural Salvage

Sorry for the interruption in my series on wired glass – I will continue it shortly.  But this is a travel week for me, and I couldn’t fly to sunny Florida without a quick trip to see my mom.  Today I dragged her to an architectural salvage company to see if they had any interesting […]

School Security Follow-Up

In the months since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been renewed efforts on the part of many schools to improve their security and better protect students, staff, and visitors.  While I’m very glad to see the focus on these improvements, I’m also very concerned about some well-meaning but misguided […]

Doors Around Boston

On a weekend trip to Family Science Day, I saw these super-tall doors at the convention center: Can you spot the code issue with the convention center’s entrance doors below? Boston’s Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 as a meeting hall, and is now part of one of the most visited tourist sites in America.  […]

Remembering the Station Nightclub Fire

I can’t believe it has been 10 years since the morning I woke up, turned on the TV, and saw the aftermath of the deadly fire that killed 100 people and injured 200 others at the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.  The recent news story below shocks me but it also underscores the […]

WW: Exit Out of Order

This photo was sent in by Curtis Meskus from Charlton, Massachusetts, who also saw the locks below while on vacation in Texas.  Keep those vacation photos coming! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Exit in Disguise, Fire Door with Accessories

Chuck Noble of Certified Fire Door sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos.  At the risk of stating the obvious, exits have to be visible and can’t be concealed by decorations, and items attached to a fire door must be listed for that use. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Kolkata Market Fire

This post should have been on Wordless Wednesday, because I’m not sure what to say that I haven’t already said.  For the 8th time in 3 years, a major fire in Kolkata, India, has resulted in multiple fatalities.  At least 19 people were killed (one news report says 28) with 50 people injured, when an […]

Code-Compliant Doors: What to Look For

This article was published in the February 2013 issue of the Locksmith Ledger: I was recently contacted by a locksmith from a local university who attended my class on fire door inspection last year.  A new dormitory on campus is in the final stages of construction, and many of the fire doors have been installed […]

WW: Cut here to exit.

This photo was taken in a health care facility and was sent to me by both Jim Jensen and Jeff Tock of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.  🙁 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Code Requirements for Doors with Access Control

This article was published in the March 2013 issue of Construction Specifier.   When specifying electrified hardware for an access control system, there’s often confusion about which code requirements to follow and what system components are needed.  Because one set of code requirements is titled “Access-Controlled Egress Doors”, a common misunderstanding is that all electrified hardware […]

Everywhere I Go – Church Edition

My husband has grown accustomed to me yelling, “Stop the car!” when I see a door of interest.  We actually had to circle the block and come back to this one in Nashville, Tennessee.  Judging from the entrance, I thought there might be some nice doors…I couldn’t process what I was seeing in time to […]

WW: Dead Battery – No Problem!

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo was submitted by Joy Davis of the Construction Specifications Institute (@CSIConstruction on Twitter).  Thanks Joy! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

The Station Movie

Last month I wrote about the first episode of The Station Movie, a video series posted online in segments about the Station Nightclub fire that occurred 10 years ago and took the lives of 100 people and injured more than 200 others.  The pain of the survivors is a reminder of why we need to […]

WW: Wreckreation

This post did start out as a Wordless Wednesday post but I got a little carried away.  I have recently found myself in several places that are not my usual hang-outs…a roller skating rink, a ski lodge, and a laser tag toxic waste dump.  I think I should get some extra-credit Mom Points, especially for […]

“What’s good about it?”

I couldn’t wait until another Wordless Wednesday rolled around to post this one. Me (immediately after taking the photo): “That’s a good one.” My 11YO daughter: “What’s good about it?” Me: “Well, the two firemen are standing directly in front of the blocked exit.” 11YO: “So by ‘good’, you really mean ‘bad’.” Me: “Yes, Captain […]

Fire & Egress Doors in the News

Theodore Firedoor…my hero!  And I’m going to start using the word “dodgy” whenever possible.  😀 High rise tenants asked to report dodgy fire doors in wake of Lakanal tragedy – 24Dash High rise tenants are being urged to report dodgy fire doors in their buildings following last week’s inquest verdict on the Lakanal House tragedy.  […]

WW: Public Safety Building

Vincent Chestnut of Alpha Locksmith spotted this problem on a visit to a local public safety building.  Not only does the door require two motions to unlatch, the thumbturn on the combination lock doesn’t look like it would be considered accessible. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Venetian Fire Exit

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, but this just arrived in my email box and I have to share. Sent as a joint effort of Jack Ostergaard, David Patton, and Jeffrey Jackson, of Healy, Bender, and Associates. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

More Reader Photos

I know it’s not Wordless Wednesday, but this photo from Alec Walsh of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies definitely left me wordless! This photo of a retail store’s emergency exit was sent by a code official asking what I though of the set-up.  It looks to me like an alarmed device and a delayed egress mag-lock.  […]

Even More Reader Photos

OK…who knows what’s wrong with the door in this photo, sent in by Jeff Tock of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies? Here are a couple more sent by Jeff.  The second one is obvious, but can you tell what’s wrong with the first one? This exit lock was the height of technology back in the early […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

I have read this first article several times and asked my codey friends for their thoughts.  None of us could come up with any national building code requirement for a closer on a non-fire-rated exterior door.  But then again…I try to avoid arguing with a building official.  What say you? Firefighters explain need for automatic […]

New York City – Part 1

Over the weekend I spent some time in New York with my friends, and as you can probably imagine I saw A LOT of doors of interest.  Here are some of them… These bronze pulls are unusual, and a great illustration of what happens to US10B finish (oil-rubbed bronze) over time: This door made a […]

WW: New York City

This photo is from one of the fine establishments we visited in NYC.  You can tell it’s *fine* because of the champagne buckets. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Fire & Egress Doors in the News

Fire in China poultry plant kills more than 100 people – Al Jazeera (vide0) China Poultry Farm Fire: Blaze Kills At Least 119 Workers In Northeastern Province – Huffington Post A swift-moving fire trapped panicked workers inside a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China that had only a single open exit, killing at least 119 people […]

New York City – Part 2

Here are some more photos from my weekend in NYC…these are all about taking a closer look. When I was looking back through my photos I couldn’t figure out why I thought this pair was interesting.  Until I looked at the close-up.  Now I can’t look at either photo without seeing the giant piece of […]

Online Code Resources

I’ve compiled some of the code resources I currently use, in hopes that some of them might be helpful to you.  If there are other websites that you visit for code information, please leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list. Building Codes Forum: I joined this discussion forum in 2009, and […]

WW: Powerbolts

This opening is secured by power bolts, which are released via the wall switch.  The panic hardware is just for show…there’s no way for the devices to latch without a mullion.  🙁 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Beautiful Doors of Denver

I’m in Denver for the AIA conference, and this afternoon I played a rousing game of Code Jeopardy with the Denver Chapter of DHI.  If you’re at the AIA conference this week, stop at our booth (#530) to play a short version of Code Jeopardy and your name will be entered to win an iPad […]

WWYD: Help Wanted

I answer A LOT of questions every day, and I love doing it.  I’m so glad to be able to provide this resource for our staff and customers, and anyone else who comes across my site.  But sometimes I get questions that I don’t have a good answer for, and that’s where you come in.  […]

WW: Stove Top Stuffing

I was just looking for a particular discussion on the Building Code Forum, and I ran across this photo which I forgot to post.  I was probably saving it for the WW before Thanksgiving.  🙂  The fire inspector had been called back to reinspect this exit, which was missing the panic hardware. If you haven’t […]

Science Lab Doors

Several questions have come up lately regarding the door and hardware requirements for science labs in schools.  When a short article about a chemical fire in a lab storage cabinet came across my desk, I decided to do a little digging.  I found that fires in school science labs are not uncommon, in fact, the […]

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

Here are a few articles that have crossed my desk recently (and some not-so-recently but I’m cleaning house).  If you find an article that you’d like to share, send it along! Vital Medical Supplies Saved in Blue Care Fire – Queensland Times Shutting a storeroom door has saved a building and vital medical supplies from […]

Reader Photos

Time to clean out the inbox!  Here’s the first batch: A couple people have asked about construction labels lately.  I wrote about construction labels a while ago, but today I received these photos from David Seeley of Clark Security.  Anyone want to guess why these stair doors have a construction label? Jeff Tock of Ingersoll […]

WW: Emergency Exit – Do Not Enter

Andy Lindenberg of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me this one.  I’m a little confused.  Should I use this door in an emergency, or not? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Reader Photos – What’s wrong with this picture?

I’ve received lots of photos lately that illustrated problems with how products were specified, supplied, or installed.  So let’s play…what’s wrong with this picture??? a) John Gant of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent this fire door photo.  Anybody see a potential problem here? b) Tim Slaughter of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me this photo […]

WW: Deadlocking Latch

Tim Kaye of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me this photo of a required egress door in a school, which truly left me wordless.  🙁 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

The Palladium – Carmel, Indiana (July 2013)

This article was printed in the July 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware Last year at this time I conducted a workshop for a group of specwriter apprentices at our office in Carmel, and we took them on a field trip to a beautiful new performance venue nearby.  The hardware consultant for the project, David […]

Decoded: Elevator Lobby Egress (October 2013)

This post was printed in the October 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] The requirements for egress from an elevator lobby differ between the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code or NFPA 5000 – Building Construction and Safety Code.  The […]

WW: Egreso en México

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m in Mexico taking in all of the lovely doors of San Miguel de Allende.  I haven’t seen much evidence of building / life safety codes, but we did go to a popular museum in Guanajuato and I saw this exit stair…I guess you could call it a […]

Recent News

Georgia school shooting: A hero emerges – Christian Science Monitor Though the school has a system where visitors must be buzzed in by staff, the gunman may have slipped inside behind someone authorized to be there, Alexander said. The suspect, who had no clear ties to the school, never got past the front office, where […]

More News

It’s one of my favorite times of the year…”Back to School!”, and school security is all over the news.  How do we keep our kids safe at school? Are police officers the answer? A Charleston police officer adjusts to the elementary school security beat – Charleston City Paper Wilson is going to become a familiar […]

WW: Panic Hardware Protection

Assuming this is the back door of a restaurant, what’s wrong with these pictures sent in by Eric Miles of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies (other than the fact that the door is filthy!)? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Reader Photos

Thank you to everyone who has sent me photos of doors they’ve seen in their travels (or while laying on the couch).  Kelly Chimilar from Allmar Inc. noticed these doors with an obvious egress problem while watching Thursday Night Football.  If you don’t know what the problem is, I will hold a special online study […]

WW: Push-Pull-Panic

Cory Yamaguchi of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies sent me this photo of an egress door he saw on an outing to the local dairy farm with his family.  I’m picturing a farm that hosts lots of visitors, not the type where the cow:human ratio is 100:1.  In addition to the creative application of pull handles, […]

Decoded: Panic Hardware on Electrical Rooms (November 2013)

This post was printed in the November 2013 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] Beginning with the 2002 edition, the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) has included requirements for some electrical rooms to have doors that open in the direction of egress, and are “equipped with panic […]

Public Library – Nashville, Tennessee

I’m in Nashville this week for the CONSTRUCT show, and I’ve been scoping out some of the beautiful doors in town. My 1 vs. 100 Fire/Life-Safety class went well today…nobody fell asleep or faked an injury so they could leave early. Tomorrow I have 1 vs. 100 Electrified Hardware at 2:45, so if you’re here […]

More Doors of Nashville

A hodge-podge of the doors I saw while I was in Nashville for CONSTRUCT last week… The West End United Methodist Church: Beautiful bronze doors on the Freemasons’ building:   The Customs House: The Lutheran Church: The Barbershop Harmony Society at night: The War Memorial bronze gates – also at night: A creative hold-open: Are […]

WWYD? Gate with Access Control and Panic Hardware

Here’s a tough one… The fire marshal wants panic hardware (a panic on one leaf may suffice). The facility wants access control. What would you do?  Please leave a comment if you have any ideas. . Photos submitted by Sharon Ashton of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this […]

School Locks Doors from the Inside

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this continues to happen, but I love to hear about people pushing for code-compliance and protection of building occupants.  Sadly, I’m sure the locks were present for a long time before someone noticed or said something, but the good news is that they were removed before tragedy struck. And […]

Music City Center – Nashville, Tennessee

I know what you’re thinking…”When is she going to stop talking about Nashville and get on to something interesting like gasketing or clear opening width?”  😀 I just processed my last group of photos from Nashville and all but a few were from the Music City Center, so I added the other ones to my […]

Reader Photos

It’s time to clean out my inbox again!  Here are some of the reader photos I’ve received.  Thanks to all who sent them! Denise Gorski of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies spotted these fire and egress door problems at a hotel.  I’m sure they have been repaired “without delay” as required by NFPA 80, right?   […]

Special Egress Locks in I-2 Occupancies

This article was published in the October 2013 issue of the Locksmith Ledger: You might be asking yourself, “what’s a ‘special egress’ lock?”  Maybe the term even inspired you to read this article.  You won’t find a “special egress lock” in a manufacturer’s catalog, and searching online won’t help much either.  The 2012 edition of […]

WW: Which way is out?

Mary Hinton of Mulhaupt’s Inc. spotted this one on  Thanks Mary! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Down at the DMV

I find the Department of Motor Vehicles so frustrating that one year I actually cried because after waiting over an hour they said I didn’t bring the right utility bill.  AND…my car got hit by someone taking his driving test in the parking lot (he failed).  It might have all been worthwhile if I could […]

WW: Look Closer

I just had an idea.  I’m putting together an online code class for my coworkers, which will be available to others outside of the company next year.  The way I like to teach about codes is to explain the intent behind the requirement, show examples, reference the applicable section of the code, and preferably to break up […]

WW: Chair Lift

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for industry colleagues who share their expertise, code officials who try to answer questions even when I’m way down into the nitty gritty, people who read this blog (or at least come to look at the pictures), and for photos like this… P.S.  I’m also thankful for family, friends, good health, […]

WW: Ice Time

This photo, from an ice arena, gives me the chills.  Ice rinks are notoriously difficult locations for doors and hardware…lots of abuse, often a high occupant load, humidity and corrosion issues, and other contributing factors.  In case you don’t see the problem right away, look at the top of the mullion.  Angle brackets have been bolted to each […]

WWYD? Connecting Classroom Doors

Many classrooms have a door connecting to the adjacent classroom.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but since most classrooms do not require a second means of egress, I think those doors are typically there for convenience.  I tried to find something in past codes that would have required the second door, but so far I […]

WW: Overlapping Astragal

Last week on The Building Code Forum, one of the members mentioned that their local police department recommended the installation of overlapping astragals on the exterior pairs at their schools.  This left me WORDLESS!  It definitely feels like 2 steps forward – 1 step back some days. This photo, from George Cutler of Quarters Hardware, illustrates […]

WWYD? Museum Gates

I’m looking for some ideas to help a designer with the gates in the sketches below.  Here’s the scenario: The gates lead to/from an area of a children’s museum designed for young kids, and the museum is looking for a way to limit access to the area so that only parents can enter with younger children.  […]

Happy Holidays!

And if you decide to decorate your door this holiday season, make sure you don’t create a problem with egress, fire-resistance, or accessibility! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

FF: Exit Alarm

I just realized that this post had not been published yet…but it’s still Friday!  Enjoy the weekend! The hardware on top is an old exit alarm, and the panic hardware has been modified so the vertical bar will actuate the exit alarm when someone pushes the crossbar of the panic.  INGENIOUS! Thank you to Rick […]

Doors and Codes in the News

Open fire door killed 2 at Mont Blanc – The Free Press Journal Mumbai: The fire door that was left open near the stair case of the 12th floor of Mont Blanc building in Kemps Corner led to the death of the two domestic helps. Two domestic help of the 17th floor residents died due […]

CONSTRUCT: Keeping Current on Codes

Visit the CONSTRUCT blog for posts from me and other industry bloggers! A few weeks ago I attended a presentation on accessibility standards at my local CSI chapter meeting.  The meeting was very well attended, as are many of the other code classes that I’ve been to or taught.  As specifiers, we need to stay […]

WW: Pool Access and Egress

Happy New Year!!! I can always count on my family road trips to result in some photos to share…remember the dollar bills on the ceiling, the Minister’s Treehouse, the day my kid got us locked in the hotel room, the super-steep h/c ramp in Costa Rica, Chip Falcon’s Road Trip, or the doors of Morocco?  We’re currently on […]

Doors of River Street – Savannah, Georgia

Before anyone says, “Why didn’t you stop and see me??”, we were only in Savannah for a quick lunch break.  🙂 Here are some interesting doors from the River Street vicinity… I saw this door and thought – “Cool!  Half-surface hinges!”  Ok – that makes me sound like a weirdo but that’s really what I thought.  […]

Q&A: Life Safety Code 2012

A few years ago I met Brad Keyes of Keyes Life Safety Compliance, who is a terrific resource when it comes to life safety questions about health care facilities.  When I received the question below I sent it to Brad, and his answer was so comprehensive and helpful that I asked if I could post it […]

WW: What’s wrong with this “exit”?

Unrelated to this post…I need a good clear photo of a hospital stop / terminated stop on a hollow metal frame.  Can anyone help me out? This door in a means of egress is not code-compliant.  Why not? Thank you to Jamo Ladd of LADSCO for sending this one! You need to login or register […]

BUILDINGS BUZZ – Voices from the Industry

I always enjoy having a chance to work with facility managers to make sure they’re up to date on what’s new in my world – whether it’s a new product or a recent code change.  I often answer specific questions and help with product applications one-on-one, but I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with them en […]

CBS Chicago: Would-Be Burglar Thwarted After Pulling Door Marked ‘Push’

The fact that this door swings in instead of out seems to confuse the burglar enough that he can’t figure out how to get in. However, I would NOT recommend inswinging doors as a security measure! Considering that people generally try to exit the way they came in, I think this opening could be an […]

Variable Door Thickness

I’ve specified hardware for A LOT of doors.  Thousands.  But I’ve never worked on a door like this one, where the door thickness varied from top to bottom.  When you have a door with an unusual thickness, you need to consider the interface between the lever trim/control, the lock body, and the panic hardware, along with the length […]

Decoded: Clear Opening Width and Height (Updated June 2017)

The original version of this post was printed in the February 2014 issue of Doors & Hardware Updated June 2017 At the beginning of my career in the hardware industry, there was a lot of confusion about how to measure the clear opening width of doors. The codes and standards weren’t specific, so on doors […]

FF: Lock Jaw

I know some of you will have something to say about this video, sent to me by Jim Elder of Secured Design…the ease of lock bumping, code-compliance of the product, ineffectiveness of deadbolts, double-sided tape…what do you think?  The national security expert explains the product at 3:25. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this […]

Senior Home Fire – L’Isle Verte, Quebec

One of the worst feelings for me is that of being powerless…of seeing a critical need before me and having no way to help.  I can’t imagine how it felt for the firefighters, neighbors, family members, and others who were forced to watch last week’s senior home fire in Quebec, without any way to rescue most of the residents – […]

FF: Polar Vortex

I live just outside of Boston and I’m so tired of the cold winter weather we’ve had this year.  I went to a meeting last week and the entrance to the meeting room was from an interior corridor, but there was an exterior door at the end of the corridor nearby.  I noticed that the closer on the […]

WW: “Leave them LOCKED!”

In case you have a hard time reading the sign on the LHR leaf, it says “Please do not use these doors.  Leave them LOCKED!”  🙁 Thank you to Eric Rieckers of Yadon Construction Specialties for the photo, even though it made me sad.  Keep ’em coming! You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite […]

FF: Rodless

Instead of maintaining the fire exit hardware on this pair of fire doors, the rods and most of the latches were removed and an exit alarm was installed.  The most disturbing part is that there are doors like this EVERYWHERE…fire doors and egress doors that will no longer perform as designed, tested, and required by code, because […]

Reader Photos

Here’s a big group of reader photos from the emailbox! Hal Kelton of DoorData Solutions spotted this modification to a magnetic holder in a hospital, and a padlocked classroom door.  🙁   Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products sent me these photos of a heavy duty door stop on a manufacturing facility: More photos from the Polar Vortex, from […]

WWYD? Emergency Exit Seals

Have you ever seen an egress door with a tamper-resistant tag on it?  I saw one on a department store stair door in New York City last year, and Wayne Ficklin sent me these photos which got me thinking about this application again.  Would you consider these acceptable for use on an egress door?  Why / why […]

Rochester Opera House

To celebrate 5 years of iDigHardware, don’t forget to send me some photos in exchange for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card! Last week I saw an egress situation that I have never seen before.  The Rochester Opera House and City Hall first opened in Rochester, New Hampshire, in 1908.  But in […]

Decoded: Annual Inspection of Egress Doors (April 2014)

This post was published in the April 2014 issue of Doors & Hardware [Click here to download the reprint of this article.] There has been a lot of publicity about the annual inspections required for fire door assemblies, but we must also be familiar with the inspection and testing requirements for egress doors.  These requirements were […]

Shorty Panics

When panic hardware is installed, the actuating portion of the panic hardware must “extend at least one-half of the door leaf width.” I have been taught since my first days in hardware school, that this means the width of the touchpad or crossbar has to measure at least half the width of the door. But lately I’ve had a couple of situations where someone interpreted this in a different way…

WW: School Security

The Wordless Wednesday Winner is Logan Piburn, from Dyron Murphy Architects!  Logan sent me LOTS of photos, and explained that these were taken at various rural schools, most built in the early 70’s and still in use today.  The photos were taken during surveys to identify existing problems and plan renovations. Here’s one that left […]

FF: Security Solution

The 5th and final recipient of a $50 Amazon gift card in honor of iDigHardware’s 5th birthday is Brian Adrian of DH Pace! Brian sent me a great collection of his favorites, some of which I’m saving for future posts, but check out this Fixed-It Friday winner…

Memory Care Egress

To some, locking doors to prevent egress may seem like a step backward. But in some applications, the danger of elopement is much greater than potential hazards of controlled egress. Until now, it has been difficult for memory care facilities to balance the code requirements for free egress or delayed egress, with the needs of their residents…

Let’s Talk it Over

I don’t know about you, but I used to feel like code officials were mysterious beings…sometimes they seemed a bit unpredictable.  I think a big part of this is because the sections of the codes that we deal with on a daily basis are difficult to decipher if you are not intimately familiar with doors […]

WW: Mall Security

This mall exit was spotted by William Hoppe of UC Merced, and the photos were sent to me by Chad Jenkins of the National Locksmithing Institute. Unbelievable…

Risqué and Risky

Last fall, one of my mom-friends turned 40. To celebrate in traditional fashion, we organized a posse of 13 40-something moms to go to a show. Not a show like the GoGos Reunion Tour…a drag show…

FF: Antique Store Exit

My plan for harnessing the power of the Earth’s population to identify and respond to code problems is working! This antique store must have some REALLY valuable antiques in it, but it’s ok because someone has Fixed-It…

Continued Vigilance

I’m in Chicago today, to attend a fire test at Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook. This product is designed to be used on fire door assemblies where the clearances are larger than those allowed by NFPA 80…

FF: Another School “Solution”

First, a few things…For everyone who still has their fingers and toes crossed from yesterday’s fire door test, the wood doors passed! In addition to addressing the perimeter clearance problems, a door shoe was tested…

WW: Vertical Rod Repair

When I look at a photo and can’t come up with the right thing to say, I know it needs to be posted for Wordless Wednesday…like this one from Kevin Taylor of Allegion…

In the News

The outstanding code violations include missing or damaged fire doors and exposed wiring, he said, and replacement doors and light fixtures have been ordered. An improperly installed gate and a parking problem also have been fixed to accommodate emergency vehicles, he said….

WW: Restaurant Exit

This illustrates why I disagree with “bending the rules” to allow non-code-compliant security devices to be used “after-hours.” When the fire marshal agrees to something like this, the compromise would typically come with a qualifier…

Decoded: Key-Operated Locks (Updated December 2017)

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…

FF: I’ve got a welder and I’m not afraid to use it.

Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products sent me these photos, taken in a 6-bay heavy truck repair garage. Lots of torches, welders, flammables, and other hazards present. Instead of replacing the door on the left, someone adept at welding Fixed-it…

WWYD? School Seclusion Room

Some schools include seclusion rooms, where a child may be placed if he/she needs time to calm down without endangering themselves or others…

WWYD? Elopement in Schools

Even if we only consider the space with the smallest occupant load – the classroom, the codes do not give us many options for preventing a student from eloping. If the classroom has an exterior door that is required for egress, it can not be locked in the direction of egress….

WW: Western Store Emergency Exit

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photos came from an anonymous fire inspector pal of mine. This is very common in retail stores – the merchandise displays creep in and encroach upon the egress route, or inhibit the operation of fire doors…

WW: Bartender Exit Only

It seems like every time I attend a meeting of one of the associations I belong to, I see something to use on this site (here’s one from a CSI meeting, and another, and another…

FF: Airport Cart Protection

These doors are fire doors and also a marked exit, so a) replacing the fire exit hardware with surface bolts negates the positive latching, b) the rim strike that has been installed with the rim panic is not acceptable for use on a fire door, c) the guide rails prevent the inactive leaf from opening…

MGM Stampede

It appears this massive mishap could have been a lot worse than it turned out to be, but it is nevertheless a scary incident that left many people hurt and hundreds in harm’s way. That may prompt the MGM Grand to reevaluate its current design and make some tweaks to avoid similar incidents in the future…

Ramp It Up

As I stood outside the warehouse I noticed that everyone who went in or out of the exit (which was not the main entrance), had something to say about the “ramp.” This exit would clearly not be considered accessible, but it was even difficult for able-bodied visitors to use…

Decoded: Use Groups and Occupancy Classifications (July 2014)

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…

DHI Technical Education in Dallas!

Back in the Olden Days when I went to hardware school, I couldn’t wait to get my AHC certification and become an instructor. I really looked up to them (and still do!). They were very knowledgeable but they had a lot of fun too. Then life happened…

WW: Scary Emergency Exit

This week’s Wordless Wednesday photo is from Keith Lathrop of Midwest Wholesale Hardware – a particularly scary emergency exit with a chain and padlock to replace the missing rods and top latch…

WW: Grocery Store Egress

In addition to the blocked egress path, I see a security bar with a padlock and hasp, the original lockset, and an exit alarm, presumably requiring at least 3 operations to unlatch the door. And possibly a key. And a detailed map to find your way to the door…

Fatal Fall From Roof

I read in the news this morning that a 2-year-old boy died when he fell from the roof of a 4-story apartment building in Dorchester, Massachusetts – about 25 miles from my home. Many of the news reports focus on the lack of supervision that allowed the toddler to leave the day care on the first floor, climb 4 flights of stairs to the roof, push the door to the roof open…

Code Implications for Mechanical Hardware

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…

FF: The Sleeve

After Tuesday’s school shooting in Oregon, there were several news reports about a school security product developed by a group of teachers. It’s called “The Sleeve,” a steel sleeve that fits over the door closer arm to prevent an intruder from opening the classroom door from the corridor…

WW: Butt in Any Time

I’m at the BHMA meeting in Chicago this week, and the restaurant we selected for dinner (a Chicago icon) had the added bonus of a door that left me a little Wordless.  This is the main entrance and exit from a restaurant with an occupant load of approximately 300.  See any issues?   Why the shims?  Because the […]

See you next week?

In just a few days I’ll be heading to Dallas for CoNEXTions 2014 – the DHI annual conference.  As I mentioned before, I’ll be teaching COR140 – Using Codes and Standards Monday-Wednesday, and in late-breaking news, I’ll be teaching the CE1401 Codes and Standards Update on Friday (6/27) from 1:30-4:00 p.m.  CE1401 is an online […]

Reader Photos

I’m in Dallas this week to teach DHI’s COR140 – Using Codes and Standards and then attend the DHI Conference – CoNEXTions 2014. It’s a crazy-busy week, so it may be a full week of reader photos. If you’ve been hoarding your awesome door photos, send them along!

More Reader Photos

I’m tied up preparing for Day 2 of COR140 and the rest of the week’s events, so here’s another batch of reader photos. Thank you to all of the readers who make it a little easier to keep iDigHardware running when my hair is on fire. I just noticed that all of today’s photos came from my Allegion brethren, so it’s an all-Allegion post!

Random Doors of Dallas

If you’re here in Dallas for DHI’s CoNEXTions 2014 and you see any beautiful or interesting doors, send me a clear photo and I’ll add it to this post! OH – and come to my class tomorrow (Friday) so I’m not all alone – CE1401 Codes and Standards Update at 1:30 in Senators Hall. Here are some that I’ve seen so far…

NYC Code Update

The New York City Department of Buildings has announced that New York City will be adopting a new construction code as of October 1st, 2014. Please forward this post to any of your colleagues who work on projects in NYC.

FF: Service Call

Jon Dudley from Allegion sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo after being called out to a hospital because of a panic device that was not functioning properly. The access control system would operate the device electrically, but two self-tapping screws had been installed on the underside of the device which prevented the touchpad from being actuated manually.

50 Articles!

Late in 2010 when this blog was about a year and a half old, the editor of Doors & Hardware asked if they could publish one of my blog posts in each issue as a monthly column…

Decoded: Calculating the Occupant Load (September 2014)

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)…

FF: Disguised Doors

For those of us concerned with egress requirements, disguising the egress side of a door is a questionable method of preventing elopement, since egress doors must be readily distinguishable…

WW: Fan Club

This is a marked exit from a dry cleaner’s. The photo was posted on the Truck Floor Training page on Facebook – a group for firefighter training. It’s interesting to look at this door from both perspectives…

NFPA 101 on Fire Door Inspection

Last week I was asked whether the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code requires annual fire door inspections for health care facilities. As many of you know, the Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon be using the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 when they survey health care facilities…

WW: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you’re not an avid reader of Doors & Hardware (what??), you may not be familiar with the Real Openings column by Mark Berger of Securitech. Mark’s photos ALWAYS leave me wordless. With Mark’s permission, here are his photos from the July issue…

TBT: Wide Throw Hinge

These photos were sent in by Eyal Bedrik of Entry Systems Ltd., after his recent trip to the US from Israel.  The photos were taken at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.  The home was built between 1902 and 1905, and is 35,000 square feet with 50 rooms! There is sometimes confusion between […]

WWYD? School Multi-Stall Bathrooms

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my teacher-friend Shilana, who shared with me (and y’all) a bit about her school’s lockdown procedures. I asked her about several scenarios…what she would do if she and the kids were on the playground, in the gym, or in the restroom when the lockdown alarm sounded…

WW: Fez Egress

In Fez, we stayed in two riads – beautiful old houses that have been converted to guesthouses. Check out the stairs…I wouldn’t want to have to get out quickly. The egress rules are a little different here…

Locked in Mazagan

This was not the first time I’ve been locked in. My youngest daughter locked us in a hotel room on another summer road trip, and once I got locked in the Trinity Church stairwell. Hopefully being locked in Mazagan makes #3 of 3…

FF: 5 Operations to Exit

Eric Rieckers of Yadon Construction Specialties sent me this classic Fixed-it Friday photo of a door gone wrong. Security must not be enhanced at the expense of life safety, and doors in a means of egress must be unlatched with one operation. Several of these locks are also mounted outside of the allowable range for operable hardware.

Doors in the News

Keith Brooks, Head of Prevention and Protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “This case is a perfect example of how important fire doors are when a fire breaks out both in the home and the workplace. They play a critical element in saving lives and property and should never be propped open…”

WW: Obstructed Egress

An architect’s office can’t claim that they didn’t understand the requirements for an unobstructed means of egress, right?

Decoded Online Training

In a few weeks I will be teaching my Decoded online course again, this time on behalf of the Center for Campus Fire Safety. The Decoded course is a 4-class series on code requirements applicable to doors and hardware, and is based on the following codes and standards…

WWYD? School Security

In addition to providing support and training on door-related code requirements, my job also includes participating in code development – helping to propose changes to the codes that affect our business, and reviewing proposals from others. There is currently research underway that may propose to add school security requirements to a national code…

WW: Hot Mess

I’m working on a blog post – hopefully for tomorrow, about a code problem involving stairwell reentry requirements. And it’s not good news. But for today, from Edward Marchakitus of Cornell Storefront Systems, the emergency exit on a retail store. You’ll be happy to know that this is the “before” photo:

Stairwell Reentry – Revisited

Something recently caught me by surprise and I feel like I should bring it to light so that anyone who is specifying, supplying, or installing electrified hardware on stairwell doors would be aware of the potential issue…

Decoded Quick-Tips: Fire Door Assemblies

In preparation for an upcoming class for access control professionals, I’m putting together some printable summaries of code tips on security-related topics. The first sheet I’m working on addresses requirements specific to fire door assemblies that would be important to an access control integrator or security consultant…

Assembly Doors with Mag-Locks

In a recent discussion about code change proposals, there was a question about whether electromagnetic locks should be an acceptable alternative to panic hardware, on doors serving Assembly occupancies – essentially the application shown in the photos below. If approved, a door serving an assembly space, and perhaps even Educational occupancies depending on how the proposal was written, could have mag-locks released by a sensor, and no panic hardware – no latching device at all…

Time-Sensitive Opportunities!

There are 3 educational opportunities coming up, but you have to act fast! An on-demand video of a fire door test – 1 week only! Access Control Training begins Thursday! The next online Decoded course begins tomorrow!

WW: Have a Coke and a Smile

It’s Wordless Wednesday again, and these photos DEFINITELY left me wordless…

Access to Panic Hardware

I’m sure you’ve seen panic hardware with some sort of guard or protection above, below, or around the panic. Should the codes define a certain area of free space around the panic hardware, ensuring that the actuating portion is obvious and readily available to someone using the exit? How much clear space is needed?

WW: Hotel Exit

When I stay in a hotel I always check the fire doors and egress doors, and unfortunately I usually find issues. I guess I’m not the only one…

WW: School Security

These are egress doors in an occupied school gym. Luckily they are going to be replaced shortly, but meanwhile, I’m Wordless.

Upcoming Webinars

Allegion is conducting a series of monthly webinars for access control integrators, which address code compliant access solutions for various applications. All webinars are held at 2 p.m. Eastern. Click here to register or to access recordings of past webinars in this series…

Fire Champ

Personally, I would love to take a photo, fill in some information, and have it routed to the correct fire department. But there are challenges when considering an app like this for use on a wider scale…


I spent most of last week in Arizona at the BHMA meeting, and I found this great (terrible) Wordless Wednesday photo for you. If you’re new to this site, the problem with this exit is that it has been modified for use as display space in a souvenir shop at the Phoenix airport. Doors in the means of egress must be visible, with no decorations, mirrors, curtains, or stuffed monkeys…

Decoded Quick-Tips: Delayed Egress

Today is the second webinar in the series for access control integrators, so here is my second list of Quick-Tips (the first list can be downloaded here). There have been some changes in the 2015 edition of the IBC, so it’s worth a review…

WW: Exit – Keep Locked!

It’s Wordless Wednesday, and this “exit” leaves me wordless…

Happy Halloween!

Last weekend our church had a Halloween party with a haunted house for the kids. Because (as Popeye always said) “I yam what I yam,” I wondered about the egress plans if there was an emergency. Maybe a maze made of cardboard and sheets with no open flames in a church basement for 3 hours with lots of adult supervision isn’t a huge concern, but haunted houses have become big business…

WW: Good Luck

It’s Wordless Wednesday again…thank you to Keith Moore who sent this photo via Jeff Tock of Allegion. You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Climb to Exit

Jerry Rice of DH Pace sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. This behavior isn’t going to change until someone gets in trouble…

WW: Emerald City

Did you know??? NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code states, “It shall be the duty of principals, teachers, or staff to inspect all exit facilities daily to ensure that all stairways, doors, and other exits are in proper condition.” I think someone missed this one…

Feng Shui

To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about feng shui, which is an ancient art and science developed over 3,000 years ago in China.  The goal of Feng Shui is to balance the energies of a space to ensure health and good fortune.  I do know that I’m not supposed to […]

WW: Booth by the Exit

I have to admit, I do like to sit where I can see the exit. But this might be a little too close for comfort…

WW: Esoteric Exits

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked to make a door invisible, I’d have enough money to buy that desert island I’ve been dreaming of. But then y’all would have to find a new place to send your Wordless Wednesday photos…

FF: I’m Wordless

I know it’s Fixed-it Friday, but I’m Wordless. Maybe you can help? Caption this…

WW: Not an Exit (Any More)

This door is in a high school auditorium, and although it no longer seems to be used as an exit (and there are marked exits nearby), it is the first door you see when attempting to exit. Many AHJs will tell you that if it looks like an exit, it has to act like an exit…

WW: Please Open Door Slowly

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo was spotted on Flickr by Deputy Jeff Tock of Allegion. I wonder how long this sign has been dangling…

Locked Egress Doors in Health Care Facilities

In January of this year, I wrote about a tragic fire at a senior home in L’Isle Verte, Quebec, in which 32 of the home’s residents were killed. The inquest into this incident is currently underway, and I’ve been keeping an ear to the ground to see if there are any lessons to share…

Decoded: Test Your Knowledge (January 2015)

You may have already noticed…I’ve been taking a little time off between the holidays, but here’s something to keep you busy until I’m back in action next Monday…

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

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…

Retrofit Security Devices In the News

A few weeks ago I wrote about a community group in Ohio that raised $30,000 to purchase a barricade device for each classroom door in their school district. Over the weekend I saw a headline about this school district from the Newark Advocate: SWL Schools Unable to Use Donated Door Barricades…

School Security – How to Build and Strengthen a School Safety Program, by Paul Timm

Paul Timm: “…The riskiest options employed today rely on relatively inexpensive aftermarket products that cover strike plates, prop open locked doors, or prevent ingress from the hallway…”

Online Training Ops

My next online Decoded class will be held on Wednesday, January 21st from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern. This is the third class in the series of 4 presented on behalf of the Door & Hardware Institute, and I will cover the requirements for life safety and egress…

Series on Historic Fires

There have been many fires throughout history that have shaped our current codes, and I recently ran across a series in the Enid (Oklahoma) News which includes several events that impacted the door and hardware industry specifically. As I’ve said before, I think we can learn a lot from the past…

Decoded: Egress Terminology (March 2015)

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…

WW: Shop Till You Drop

Since it’s Wordless Wednesday, I’ll let you tell me what’s wrong with this “key-operated lock” application. Extra credit if you can tell me what changed about the key-operated lock requirements in the 2015 IBC…

FF: Screwed Up

The card reader in this photo was installed to prevent access to the stairs on the other side of this door.  A card reader on the push side of a door with an electric strike and panic hardware doesn’t provide security, because you can just push on the touchpad of the panic to exit.  To […]

“Buyer Beware” – Paul Timm, RETA Security

Paul Timm: “For those pursuing alternative solutions, it is important to consider that some schools have installed after-market devices only to find out that code violations require their removal. Buyer beware!”

WW: Don’t Dowel Doors

Paul Elliott sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos of retail egress issues he has run across. When he mentioned the dowel to a store employee, the employee said, “No problem. We’ll untie it if there’s a fire.” No joke.

FF: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

I really love this restaurant, but every time I go I wonder if someone approved this egress arrangement or it just sorta happened as they were hanging the drapes…

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Phil Chandler

We’ve received close to 4 feet of snow in the last week, so when I saw The Inspector’s column in this month’s e-NewZone monthly newsletter from The Center for Campus Fire Safety, I asked them if I could share it here…

WW: Surviving an Active Shooter

This PSA was recently released by the LA County Sheriff’s Department. It is a very graphic representation of how to survive an active shooter situation. It is obviously not acceptable for use with kids, but it does show a classroom security lock used by a teacher, as well as a locked exit blocking the escape of a victim…

Decoded: Electrified Hardware Refresher (April 2015)

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.”

Murals in Health Care Occupancies

Last summer I wrote a post about the practice of disguising doors in memory care units, to help prevent patients from “eloping.”  I included many examples of doors with painted or adhesive murals, disguising doors as bookcases, gardens, wheat fields…basically anything other than an exit that might tempt a patient.  I researched the codes at […]

ALICE does not endorse any brand of barricading devices

When discussing code-compliant security with staff from schools and other types of facilities, I’ve heard one comment several times…“If ALICE training [the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, our local police department] advocates the barricading of doors with furniture, why can’t we use the door barricade devices that are now on the market?” ALICE is […]

WW: Chained Exit

These photos are the definition of Wordless Wednesday. I saw them posted on the Truck Floor Training Facebook page and asked for permission to share them here…

State board rules against classroom door blocking devices

The group ultimately raised over $30,000 and purchased the devices, but were then told that the devices did not comply with egress code requirements and a variance would be needed before the devices could be used. The variance hearing for the barricade devices to be used on the district’s high school was held yesterday, and the variance request was denied…

WW: Frost Heaves

In the Wordless Wednesday photos below, one door is stuck partially open and the other pair has been taken out of commission. How do you balance the life safety requirements with the feasibility of addressing problems that will probably last for several more weeks if not longer?

The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio schools can’t use barricades to keep gunmen out

Will lawmakers uphold the codes that have been protecting us for decades, or will they change state laws to satisfy the parents and teachers who are pushing for a change that would sacrifice free egress in favor of inexpensive locking methods?

Decoded: 2015 IBC Roundtable

If you are a member of the New England Chapter of DHI I hope you already know about this upcoming class, but in case you didn’t get the memo…I will be teaching a code class next week along with Jeff Batick, Greg DeGirolamo, Paul Goldense, and Jim White.  This class will be available for other […]

WW: Special Knowledge and Effort

Most egress doors are required to be readily openable with no special knowledge or effort. The door must unlatch with one operation, and the operable hardware must be mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor. There are several problems with this Wordless Wednesday dutch door found at a cell phone store…

Ohio decision will have nationwide impact

If you don’t think the Ohio barricade situation applies to you because you don’t live in Ohio, or because you don’t do school-related work, think again. Please read the article below. It is crucial for us to spread the word about a balanced approach to school security.

2015 Edition of the Allegion Code Reference Guide

As most of you know, the code development cycle is typically 3 years, which means that the codes are constantly evolving. The 2015 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code were recently released, and I have revised the Allegion Code Reference Guide to include these changes…

NASFM: Classroom Door Security and Locking Hardware

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) has posted a document on their website which offers that support, by providing guidance on the use of classroom door security and locking hardware. The 6-page document includes a suggested classroom door checklist, with code references for each item on the list…

FF: Panic Problem

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photo was sent in by Rick Turcotte of Horner Commercial Sales. A few questions for you:
a) This is a 4′-wide stairwell door. What’s wrong with this picture?…

Panic Problem Follow-Up

Many of you figured out right away that someone has taken fire exit hardware designed for a 3-foot-wide door and installed it on a 4-foot-wide door. The original mechanism tube has been replaced with one from a 4-foot device, and a filler plate fills the area where the wider touchpad should be…

WW: Armed Forces Museum

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo was sent to me by Lee Francisco and Jerry Rice of DH Pace. The “Remove for Exit” bar makes this exit non-compliant.

FF: Fire Escape Exit Alarm

This photo may be one of my favorite Fixed-it Friday photos ever. It was sent to me by Michael Carney of Allegion. This application is in place on the roof door and all of the fire escape access doors in a dormitory high-rise. A very creative way to install an exit alarm, but I don’t know how secure or how durable it is…

We need to do this right. – Lt. Joseph A. Hendry Jr. , CLEE

Lt. Joseph A. Hendry Jr. , CLEE – “As I’m reading the open source material on the German plane crash, I keep returning to one thought: Someone developed a fail safe way to keep people out of the cockpit, without adequately thinking about what would happen if the threat was already in the cockpit.”

WW: You Must Jump

I received today’s Wordless Wednesday photo from both Don Funsch of Commercial Mill and Builders Supply and Chuck Park of Fire Door Inspection Service. Be forewarned. Don’t exit unless you’re willing to be run over.

WW: School Security

Why? Because it’s easier and less expensive to secure the door when you don’t consider codes or safety.

Exit Signs on Kick Plates

John Gant of Allegion sent me a very interesting question this morning (well, it was interesting to me anyway!). This photo was taken at a new athletic center in Vermont. The kick plates have luminous “EXIT” signage on them, and John was told that this was a code requirement…

Keys to Classroom Security

This is a shorter version of my article Barricade Device? Think Twice! that can be used in newsletters if the original article is too long. Please leave a comment below if you submit either article for publication, including the name of the publication and the approximate date.

Middlebury College Virtue Field House

In a post last week I shared a photo from John Gant of Allegion, showing a bank of doors with a floor-proximity illuminated exit sign. After reading some comments discussing whether the second set of doors was visible enough, John thought we might like to see a larger view of these doors. What do you think?

WW: Duct Tape Again

I can’t believe how many photos of duct-taped doors I have posted (here are a few: 1, 2, 3)! Debbie White of Allegion sent me this one. Wow…

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

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…

When is a door not a door?

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about murals in health care occupancies and a change to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code. I just read an article in Australian Ageing Agenda about the practice of disguising doors in memory care units, and how this affects the patients…

WW: Key, Special Knowledge, and Effort

2015 IBC: 1010.1.9 Door operations. Except as specifically permitted by this section, egress doors shall be readily openable from the egress side without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort…

Door Security & Safety Foundation on Classroom Safety

The Door Security & Safety Foundation recently published their position on school safety and classroom barricade devices.  I have added this link to the Schools tab above. The mission of the Door Security and Safety Foundation (DSSF) is “to promote safe and secure openings that enhance life safety.” DSSF is dedicated to serving the public […]

This Week in Baltimore – Code Jeopardy!

Wednesday, 2:00-4:30 p.m. and Thursday, 9:45 a.m.-12:20 p.m. I’ll be in Room 337 teaching Code Jeopardy! Each session is 45 minutes long and there are 2 different sessions with completely different questions…

WW: Key-Operated Lock

The IBC allows key-operated locks in some locations – do you think this lock is compliant with the language below if the required signage is included? And for extra credit, who knows what kind of lock this is? 🙂

Fire and Egress Doors in the News

A fire door is being credited with keeping flames contained at a Sturgis manufacturing building…Three people were found unconscious in a stairwell filled with smoke…As Fire Chief Drake put it, the simple act of closing the door can save the lives and contents behind it…

Who wants a (FREE) code book??

The time has finally come for me to clear out my office in preparation for 3 new specwriter apprentices to join the New England SSC.  I have been working from my home office for years and will be temporarily relocating (more on that later), so today is the day I clean house. One thing I’ve […]

Minnesota Rationale

This document does not technically apply to facilities located outside of Minnesota, but this reasonable insight from authorities with decades of fire safety experience can not be ignored. To me, this rationale was particularly powerful given the fact that Minnesota is the location of the 2005 school shooting at Red Lake High School, where a 16-year-0ld killed 7 people and wounded 5 others. Although the classroom doors were locked…

WW: High Security

I was going to post this for Fixed-it Friday, but when I noticed the manual flush bolt installed in the face of each door, I became Wordless. This exit is serving a theater. Thank you to Dean Benson of Northern Door for the photo…

Ohio Hearing – Security Industry Association

I could use your help with my testimony for the upcoming hearing. If you were sitting in the hot seat in front of the Board, what would you say??

WW: Emergency Exit Only

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo came from RB Sontag of Allegion. This is a roof door (which really shouldn’t be an emergency exit anyway) and I can’t imagine how secure a chain wrapped around the lever would be, but if the exit is to be taken out of service they should talk to the fire marshal and change the signage…

Real Openings: Mean Means of Egress

Who would have thought the readers of Doors & Hardware magazine would embrace a monthly column on the code requirements for door openings, let alone TWO monthly (or almost-monthly) columns on the topic?

My friend Mark Berger of Securitech Group has given me permission to share his June column here. I don’t know how he finds these openings…

What’s a barricade device, anyway?

As I have been preparing for tomorrow’s public hearing in Ohio along with members of the door and hardware industry, code officials, and others interested in the classroom barricade issue, I came to a realization: some of the people involved in this debate are not familiar with how barricade devices work…

FF: Emergency Exit Alarm

What’s wrong with this Fixed-it Friday photo, sent in by David Seeley 0f Clark Security Products?

School Liability and the Law of Unintended Consequences

MANY people have asked me about the potential for liability if a school chooses to secure their classroom doors using a barricade device that inhibits or deters egress. Could a school be held liable? I didn’t know the answer, so we enlisted the help of an attorney to help us understand the considerations…

Ohio Barricade Bills

If you live and/or work in Ohio, it is not too late to talk to the state legislators in your district(s). If you call their offices, you may be able to talk to them directly or get an email address. The Door Security and Safety Foundation has compiled some information that might be helpful to send along with your concerns…

WW: Stair Discharge

I don’t know why it still surprises me when I see blocked exits, but the good news is we’ll probably never run out of photos for Wordless Wednesday. Don’t forget to send me photos of what you see during your summer vacation!

FF: Panic Problem? No Problem!

This could definitely be a Wordless Wednesday photo, but I couldn’t wait to share it so here’s an excellent (terrible) Fixed-it Friday photo from Rachel Smith of Karpen Steel. Unbelievable.

Why We Don’t Have to Destroy the Fire Code to Save Lockdown, Lt. Joseph Hendry

You may remember a guest blog post from Lieutenant Joseph Hendry, who is with the Kent State University Police Department and the ALICE Training Institute. Lt. Hendry has an article in this month’s Campus Safety Journal, on the challenges created by using barricade devices for classroom lockdown. Here’s my favorite part…

FF: Automatic Flush Bolt

Jenny Pauley of Kendell Doors sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo of a non-code-compliant repair that was made because the top corner of the fire door split. This is pretty common when corner-wrap flush bolts are used, because of the amount of wood that is removed…

FF: Blocked Exits? Or Not?

The first response might be – there’s no exit sign, so no problem, right? Wrong! While I can’t say for sure that these particular doors are egress doors, using the presence of exit signs to determine whether the door is in a required means of egress is not a reliable plan. If a door has an exit sign, it needs to meet the egress requirements. And even if it doesn’t have an exit sign…

Delayed Egress Timer

I checked with the ICC and NFPA for a code opinion, and both staff members acknowledged that the code does not address this specific issue, so it would be left up to the AHJ. One made a good point – the time to initiate the timer and the time to release the device should be two separate periods…

Bronx Zoo

As promised in Monday’s post, here are some of the doors we saw during our visit to the Bronx Zoo. Keep your camera ready during your summer vacation and send me some photos of interesting doors that you see (please)!

MFA Auditorium Egress

I often find that I am more cautious about modifying code requirements than even the AHJ. This opening is serving an Assembly occupancy, where delayed egress is not allowed by the IBC. In addition, the AHJ approved the 30-second delay instead of 15 seconds…

TD Garden, Boston

Some of you might be thinking…”Doors can’t be disguised like that!” but this mural is on the access or ingress side of the door, not the egress side. The model codes require means of egress doors to be readily distinguishable and easily recognizable as doors, but this requirement is typically applied to the egress side of the door…

WW: Airport Egress

I’ve seen a lot of funky egress route restrictions in airports, but this was a first…

School Courtyard Applications

I recently went on a field trip to an elementary school with Greg Thomson (Allegion specwriter) and a group of our specwriter apprentices, and we saw a couple of interesting applications in the courtyard. The courtyard is fully enclosed so a means of egress is required at each end…

WW: Day Care “Egress”

These photos from an Alabama day care center make me nauseous. Literally. I’m Wordless.

Options for Securing Classroom Doors (video)

Here’s the latest in our series of whiteboard animation videos explaining door-related topics. This one covers various options for securing classroom doors, in alignment with the guidelines from the National Association of State Fire Marshals. Enjoy and share!

WW: Museum Egress

I’ve written quite a few specifications for museum projects and although many architects have asked me for “invisible doors,” I do my best to talk them out of it. These are two different museums, in two different states, but these Wordless Wednesday photos were both sent to me the same week by two different people…

FF: Barricade Device Epidemic

I’ve shared several news stories about high school students designing barricade devices (here’s one, here’s another), but now the Air Force Research Lab has joined the effort. Sadly, this “innovation” probably won’t stop until a tragedy occurs…

WWYD? Assisted Living Entries

I am often asked whether it is code-compliant to install a separate deadbolt with a latchset or lockset on a dwelling unit entry door in an assisted living facility. Most doors in a means of egress are required to unlatch with one operation for egress. While there is an exception…

WW: Locked After-Hours

What I want to know is…why do some people think it’s ok to use these locks after-hours, when the building is unoccupied? I don’t see anything in the codes to support that, but it seems to be a common belief. Am I missing something?

Delayed Egress vs. Controlled Egress

Delayed egress vs. controlled egress…can you explain the difference? Do you know when and where each type of locking hardware is allowed, and what the IBC requires in order to ensure life safety?

WW: 8 Operations

The door in these Wordless Wednesday photos has 7 surface bolts, an exit alarm, a door position switch, AND a rolling door. Wow.

WW: Not So Fast

Seriously…this Wordless Wednesday photo makes me want to cry. Posted with the permission of Ron Burgess Jr. of the Westport Fire Department (originally posted on the Truck Floor Training Facebook page).

WW: $84K OSHA Fine Proposed

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo came from the New York Daily News. The full article about the high-end furniture store being cited by OSHA for blocked egress routes and propped open fire doors can be read here…

Guidance Issued on Barricade Devices for Schools

Ohio BBS Guidance Document: “Schools are being cautioned against purchasing and deploying devices before the rules take effect as some devices currently on the market may not be allowable once new rules are adopted.”

WW: Liquor is Quicker

This is the rear exit of a liquor store. Although the store was closed when this photo was taken, on the other side of the door there is an exit sign, panic hardware, a surface bolt, and a padlock. This type of retrofit is common when additional security is needed, but it is NOT code-compliant…

WW: Down at the Mini-Mart

Chris Ostwinkle from DH Pace sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. The bar above the panic limits the degree of opening, which may have contributed to the closer issues. And in case you missed it…that’s a double-cylinder deadbolt above the panic, in addition to the slide bolt. 🙁

FF: Bodega Emergency Exit

We still do almost all of our shopping in the small tiendas and larger mercados, but last weekend I saw this door at la bodega. At first glance I saw the sign and thought it had a delayed egress lock…

Reader Photos

It’s been a really long time since I posted a collection of reader photos because I’ve been using a lot of these submissions for Wordless Wednesday and Fixed-it Friday. Here are some of the reader photos that have been patiently waiting in my inbox…

More Reader Photos

Austin Baumann of Central Indiana Hardware sent me this photo of the emergency exit in a mirror maze. This would be considered a special amusement building – I wrote about some of the requirements for those occupancies here. I have often seen means of egress modifications…

FF: Unequal Leaf Pair

This is not how I would have specified the hardware for this unequal leaf pair. I think the panic hardware on the small leaf actually results in an opening that is less safe, because the removable mullion makes the small leaf difficult or impossible to use…

FF Follow-Up

Last week’s Fixed-it Friday photo has raised some questions about the best way to handle an unequal pair…a) Do both leaves of a pair require panic hardware?…

WW: Skinny Sortie

This is the exit access leading to a 3rd-floor fire escape in a Montreal hotel. I’m Wordless.

WWYD? Multiple Crossbars

Today’s question…is it code-compliant to have panic hardware along with additional stationary horizontal push-bars?

WW: Until the Cows Come Home

John Lozano from Allegion sent me this photo he took at a festival in Wisconsin…I’ve seen worse at the state fair, but this exit is a little sketchy…

FF: Garrafones de Agua

I saw this door as I was walking down the street an hour ago. It’s your run-of-the-mill trash-can hold-open, with an added security layer consisting of a stack of giant bottles of water (we call them garrafones) inside…

Fatality Related to Roof Door

A 91-year-old man with dementia has died after wandering onto the roof of the housing authority apartment building where he lived in Batavia, New York. News reports are citing an unlocked door leading to the roof – it may have locked after the man passed through it…

Swimming Pool Access Control

I know that much of the US is beyond swimming pool season, but this question just came up again so I’ll leave it right here for you to find when you need it…

FF: Airport Security

According to the facility, the doors are no longer required as an exit, but if that’s the case, why not just lock them up, add some signage (“Not an Exit”), remove the exit sign, and make it look less like a Fixed-it Friday contender?

Clear Opening Width for Double-Egress Pairs

This question landed on my desk recently…What is the minimum clear opening width for each leaf of a double-egress pair?

FF: To Exit, Enter Current Year

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photo was found on Imgur, so I don’t know where it originated. It shows the creative use of an access control keypad to control egress. If this application was used in a memory care facility, it would be code-compliant if a delayed egress system or controlled egress system was used…

WW: Double Trouble

These Wordless Wednesday photos are from Erich Friend of Teqniqal Systems. According to Erich, the first photo is the initial egress door out of the auditorium. If you make it past the lab table, you encounter the trash can and piano stored in front of the exit discharge. No words…

FF: Good Luck Getting Out

Some Fixed-it Friday photos result in mixed emotions – sadness that people resort to these methods, excitement that I have something to share with you that will make you shake your head, concern that the creative application could cause harm. Like these photos from Leo Lebovits of M&D Door & Hardware, taken at a public swimming pool…

WW: Slippery Slope

There are some AHJs who allow security measures that are not compliant for egress if they’re only used “after hours.” I always say that this is a slippery slope, because once the device is installed, there’s no guarantee that anyone will remember that the door is supposed to be unlocked during business hours…

WW: Classic on Ice

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo, sent to me by Aaron Owens of Allegion, is not an unusual code violation. The location is what leaves me wordless – an NHL hockey arena…

FF: Wrong Hand?

What is happening in this Fixed-it Friday photo sent to me by Daniel Cannon of Allegion? If the lever has to be turned up instead of down because it’s the wrong hand, shouldn’t the sign be on the other side of the door? Or…maybe someone could just make it right?

WW: Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving with friends and family!

FF: Black Friday

There are many commenters who feel that while the blocks are a danger to firefighters, they’re not a code issue if the building is not occupied. If the pallets are blocking required exits, I think they are a code issue, unless one of you can find something in the International Fire Code that says the means of egress requirements only apply when the building is occupied…

WW: Seek Alternate Route

These photos were shared on the Truck Floor Training page on Facebook, and are posted here with the permission of Chris Morgani of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department. In addition to the obvious problem, the door is welded shut. Maybe it’s not a required exit, or maybe someone made an uneducated decision. We will probably never know…

NFPA Journal: What Price Security?

Every December I weed through my inbox so I can start fresh in the new year. I get A LOT of email…my inbox is currently down to only 525 emails waiting for some sort of action on my part. I just found an email that included a link to an article from NFPA Journal…

WW: Clearance Sale

We’ve all seen this somewhere.  Did you say something?  Was the problem resolved? Submitted to iDH by the International Code Council.  🙂 You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

FF: Break Glass

This photo from Kristi Dietz of LaForce, Inc. (check out their blog!), is not just your everyday Fixed-it Friday photo. It is one of my favorite Fixed-it Friday photos OF ALL TIME! And no, it’s not code-compliant…at least not in any jurisdiction that I know of…

Good Egress – 99% Invisible

This public radio broadcast about egress and the accompanying article from 99% Invisible are both FABULOUS. Some of the old-fashioned inventions for exiting a building remind me of the “new” school safety and fire escape ideas…

FF: Double-L

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photo was posted on the Truck Floor Training Facebook page by Brandon Stroud, a firefighter from Anderson, South Carolina. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

WW: Do Not Lock

I love it when non-hardwarey people send me photos of egress problems or faulty fire doors. Today’s Wordless Wednesday photo is from my friend Gia Jobin, who saw this door on a university campus and recognized that there was a problem…

Intro to Codes (video)

We’ve been working on a new series of whiteboard animation videos…here is one of my favorites!

FF: Tea Time

I think if I passed this Fixed-it Friday door while visiting this memory care unit my mind would have gone right to the NFPA 101 section that addresses exits disguised by murals in certain types of health care units. Maybe I wouldn’t have focused on the actual artwork, but as Gail Erickson of Allegion pointed out when she sent the photo (“I wonder how many times the alarm goes off when they go to get a cup of tea?”), what is depicted in the mural could affect how well the disguise works…

WW: Break Glass to Exit

This Wordless Wednesday photo from Scott Straton of Allegion requires a bit of explanation. In Scott’s words…”My niece was working out at 3:00 AM (she is an avid runner and had an early flight) at a hotel fitness room. When she went to get a drink of water, the lock failed and she was not able to get out…”

FF: Enter in 15 Seconds

I guess this application would work if there wasn’t a real need for security, but if someone is able to press the touchpad from outside the gate, they will be able to enter the secure area after waiting 15 seconds. It’s a lot of money to spend for security that can be so easily defeated. I’ll give them credit for installing the signage though!

WW: Fireplace Logs

I’m Wordless about today’s photo, sent in by Paul Goldense of Goldense Building Products. But on another topic…please help with yesterday’s WWYD? post if you can…

Follow-Up – Existing Fire Door, New Access Control

The possible solutions posted by iDH readers included electrified lever trim, electric latch retraction, delayed egress, a direct-hold electromagnetic lock, a networked wireless lock, or an electric strike. My preference would be…

WW: Exit? Or No Exit?

This Wordless Wednesday photo (from Keith Brown and Steve Bildzok of Allegion) reminds me of how I feel when I walk into my kids’ bedrooms. “WHY? What is all of this crap on the floor and why isn’t it put away where it belongs? What excuse could you possibly have…

Decoded: Safe Dispersal Area Within a Fence or Enclosed Court (April 2016)

If these criteria are met, the fence surrounding the building would not be required to have gates that allow free egress, as the building occupants can gather safely in the enclosed area and wait for emergency responders to arrive…

FF: Fire code violations found in Franklin group home

“The violations included a window that was screwed shut with three wood screws; an evacuation sign that labeled three exits to the home, even though there were only two; and one of the two exits, leading out to the back, was jammed by a chair that was screwed to the deck…”

WW: Hangar Exit (or not)

This Wordless Wednesday photo was posted on the Truck Floor Training Facebook page, by Ian Vandenberg of Travis County Fire Rescue. I just love the extra-large wood wedges…

Beyond Lockdown

As a member of the door and hardware industry, my focus with regard to classroom lockdown is how to provide security without jeopardizing safety. Lt. Joseph Hendry of the Kent State University Police Department looks at the issue from a slightly different (and valuable) perspective…

WW: Exit Up or to Roof

I wonder how the designer got away with the design of this exit. From the corridor, it gives the impression of a normal exit door. When you open the door, you can only go either up to the 7th floor or onto the adjacent roof. There is no way to go down to exit the building…

La Parada – Albuquerque, New Mexico

I used to post lots of photos from trips I took with my family, and I’ll be doing some more traveling this summer. In the meantime, I’m counting on y’all to send me pics of any interesting doors you see in your travels. Logan Piburn of Dyron Murphy Architects sent me these photos…

WW: Fire Door Inspection

John Lozano of Allegion sent me these photos from a recent class on fire door inspection. What problems do you see on this pair of fire doors in a health care facility?

FF: Backwards Doors

It looks like this TV show needs a new quality-control expert with some experience in doors!

WW: Another Retail Exit

What do you think? Does this door meet the intent of NFPA 1 if the security devices are only engaged when the building is not occupied?

2018 IBC Change for Classroom Locking

THE VOTES ARE IN, and the code change proposed by BHMA to address classroom locking in the 2018 IBC has been approved as modified by public comment!

FF: Egress Deterrent

This photo was taken at a VERY well-known theme park which does a great job with their door-related code-compliance, and is frequently inspected by the local code officials. The black part of this chain looks like it might be a magnet…

WWYD? Escape Room

Escape rooms are popping up all over the world, and have already opened in many US cities. The premise is that you are locked in a room with friends, family members, coworkers…

Define: Occupied

The word “occupied” is not defined in the IBC or the IFC. When a term is not defined in these publications, the “ordinarily accepted meaning” applies, as defined in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary…

Stairwell Reentry

Most stairwells in commercial and institutional buildings are designed to protect the means of egress using fire-resistant construction and fire door assemblies as opening protectives. When building occupants are within a stair enclosure during a fire…

WW: Should you trust a robot in an emergency?

I was very surprised at research conducted by the Georgia Tech Research Institute, which found that people trusted a robot to guide them to safety, even when it made mistakes or experienced technical difficulties…

Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp

When I receive a question about the NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code requirements for health care facilities, I need to know not just what the code says but how it will be enforced…

Decoded 3 – Egress and Life Safety

I have finished the on-demand version of Class 3 in the Decoded series, so now 3 of the 4 classes are available – for free!

Law allowing school barricade devices raises concerns in Portage

Safety officials are concerned a new state law that allows barricade devices on classroom doors could make a crisis situation worse. The idea sounds great…

WW: Courtyard Exit

This photo was taken in a high school, while school was in session. The doors lead from an enclosed courtyard into the school – the egress path should pass through the interior of the school and out the main exit doors to the public way…

Controlled Egress vs. Delayed Egress

While delayed egress locks must automatically unlock 15 seconds after a building occupant actuates the device, a controlled egress lock allows the egress doors serving certain areas to remain locked until they are unlocked by staff, the automatic fire protection system, or power failure…

WW: XpresSpa or Exit?

See any problems here? Thanks to Tim Weller of Allegion for this Wordless Wednesday photo! The fun never ends!

Decoded: Alternative Methods and Equivalency (June 2016)

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! 🙂

Architexts – Code Question

Code question…fake it till you make it?

FF: Preschool Exit

This Fixed-it Friday solution is ok for a preschool since the average height of the occupants is 26 inches, right? WRONG!

WW: Doors in the Corn

In addition to the fact that you’re not supposed to disguise egress doors, those hinges are severely under-engineered for those doors. Photos sent in by Dave Ilardi of Allegion.

WWYD? Mag-Locks

I am assuming that the airport requested and received the proper code modifications for the pair of doors in the photos below – serving the airport terminal. Anybody know what the required code modifications would be?

Mag-Lock Follow-Up

I posted these photos (below) yesterday to ask what problems you all saw. Here’s what I see…

WW: Double-Trouble

Take a close look. There are 2 doors in this opening – one inswinging, one outswinging. Each has 2 surface bolts. The request was to add yet another lock to these doors. Yikes.

FF: Conference Center

In addition to yesterday’s applied panels, which qualified as Fixed-it Friday photos, here are a few more applications from the conference center where I’m spending one more night. If you’re in Orlando and saw any Fixed-it Friday doors during your stay, send them along!

WW: Were you raised in a barn?

This Wordless Wednesday photo could have easily been a Fixed-it Friday photo, but since this “fix” is on an occupied Assembly space, it left me Wordless. Thank you to Dave Ilardi of Allegion for sending me photos from the family vacation. 😀

Locks for Multi-Stall Restrooms

According to the IBC Commentary, the purpose of this requirement is to prevent people from locking themselves in the toilet room to create a safe haven for illicit activities…

BBS Memo – Temporary Door Locking Devices

Here’s the latest on classroom barricade devices…let me know what’s happening in your state.

Decoded: Changes to the Life Safety Code for Health Care Occupancies (July 2016)

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an interesting conversation happening on my post from earlier in the week about classroom barricade devices. If you have something informative to add in response to the manufacturers of these products…

NFPA 101 – A few more changes…

Last week I posted my next Decoded article – about changes affecting door openings between the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 and the 2012 edition. Paul Dzurinda of Russell Phillips & Associates sent me a few more changes that we should be aware of…

WWYD? Animal Research Facility

Last week, I was asked how I would handle the hardware for an animal research lab, where animals (particularly primates) may need to be prevented from eloping…

WW: Gas Station Exit

I think we all know by now that egress doors are not allowed to be painted or covered in a way that would disguise them (except certain doors in health care occupancies where NFPA 101 allows murals)…

Classroom Security – Latch Prevention

Schools have been able to use magnets over locking mechanisms, allowing doors to be easily opened throughout the day and still lock quickly by simply removing the magnet. But by Jan. 1, 2018, that quick fix will no longer be enough…

WW: Cross-Corridor Door

Brian Lane of Allegion sent in the photos below (via Deputy Jeff Tock). This is a cross-corridor door in a health care facility. The wall behind the door MUST be temporary, but wow…

UCLA Students Unable to Lock Doors

During yesterday’s shooting at UCLA, Brian Fochler tagged me in a photo tweeted from the engineering building where the shooting was taking place, which was my first indication that something lock-related was happening. Since then I’ve received many other emails…

WW: Emergency Exit Only

Anyone see a problem with this Wordless Wednesday photo sent in by Art of Doors?

Decoded: Small Assembly Occupancies (August 2016)

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…

Classroom Locking Device – One Motion Egress

We have been asked to share our expertise and constructive feedback on this product idea for locking classroom doors…

FF: Sensor Release

Sometimes a system incorporating a sensor can be problematic, because traffic moving past the door can inadvertently unlock the mag-lock…

Double-Acting Doors

Every so often, I’m asked whether a double-acting door can be used in a location where egress is required in both directions. A double-acting door is one that swings in and out…

WW: Double Egress?

This Wordless Wednesday photo from Scott Straton of Allegion shows not just an exit that requires two operations to release the latch…the operations must be performed simultaneously! NOOOO!!!

WWYD? Multiple Delayed Egress Locks

There is some confusion surrounding the use of multiple delayed egress locks in a means of egress – in part because of variations between the codes…

Elopement from Schools

I read an article this morning about a 3-year-old boy who eloped from his preschool in Bangor, Maine. The teacher saw him go through the exterior door…

WW: Warehouse Exit

It’s a good thing it’s Wordless Wednesday, because I’m running out of words. Thank you to RB Sontag of Allegion for the photos.

WW: Benched

It’s Wordless Wednesday again, and there are 3 days left in the iDigHardware celebration and $100 gift card giveaway!

BUILDINGS BUZZ – Voices from the Industry

I currently have an article on BUILDINGS BUZZ…the blog for BUILDINGS, a magazine for commercial building owners and facilities management professionals. The article covers some of the code changes…

Horizontal Sliding Door

Charles Anderson sent me this photo of a horizontal sliding door he found on a marked exit in an antique store. So…is it code-compliant?

WW: High School Gym Exit

These were taken DURING a high school basketball game. Thank you to John Borchmann of Allied Building Products for this week’s Wordless Wednesday photos.

Stairwell Reentry (video)

I’ve received a lot of questions about stairwell reentry lately, so I think it’s time for me to address that topic in another article for Doors & Hardware. In the meantime, here’s a new whiteboard animation video about stairwell reentry!

Fail Secure vs. Fail Safe (video)

When working with electrified hardware it’s very important to understand the difference between fail secure and fail safe products. I hope this video helps!

FF: Two Bars Are Better Than One?

A while back, I posted some photos of a door that had panic hardware along with several stationary push bars. Although the model codes don’t specifically address this application, I don’t think it’s acceptable…

Controlled Egress vs. Delayed Egress (video)

For health care facilities, controlled egress can provide a greater level of safety for patients who require containment because of their clinical needs. This video explains the requirements for controlled egress and delayed egress…

Construction Specifier: Battling the Barricade

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…

Decoded: Balconies, Terraces, and Courtyards (October 2016)

. This post was published in the October 2016 issue of Doors & Hardware . Many of today’s architectural designs incorporate outdoor spaces such as balconies, terraces, and courtyards, allowing building occupants access to natural light and fresh air.  Because these areas often have an egress path which leads through the building to the public […]

WW: Wild West Fire Exit

The exit sign over the door was washed out by the flash, but it is there and it is illuminated as required. I wonder if this door would/could actually be used in an emergency…

WW: Double Trouble

Dave Carter of Allegion sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo – taken in a restaurant. You might be thinking, “Maybe this isn’t a required exit…”

Decoded: Dwelling Unit & Sleeping Unit Entrance Doors (November 2016)

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…

WW: Tunnel Vision

Steve Murray from Security Lock Distributors sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos…see any issues?

NFPA – Fire Safety for People with Disabilities

Last week I received questions from two different facility managers about egress requirements the evacuation of people with disabilities. More than 43 million Americans have a disability…

WW: Public School Exit

I received today’s Wordless Wednesday photo from LaForce, Inc. It was taken in a Chicago Public School. Wordless.

Emergency Entrance?

In case you think I have all of the answers, I don’t know why this door has been designated an emergency entrance. And if it’s supposed to be used to enter the building during an emergency, why doesn’t it have any hardware on the outside?

FF: Padlocked Panics

Leo Lebovits of M&D Door & Hardware sent me these photos from his summer vacation…this is a particularly egregious situation – very scary.

WWYD? Communicating Bathroom Locks

Yesterday, an engineer from a state fire marshal’s office asked me about locks on a shared bathroom in a college dorm. In a single family home, these “Jack and Jill” bathrooms have privacy sets that are lockable from inside the bathroom, so there isn’t an egress problem…

School/College Planning & Management

What should a school consider before purchasing classroom barricade devices, also known as temporary door locking devices?

WW: I give up. Uncle!

This Wordless Wednesday photo came from Kim Loux of Hellyer Lewis. Some days I just want to throw in the towel. Who could possibly think this is a good idea??

WW: Man Cave

According to my coworker, Mark Kuhn of Allegion, this Wordless Wednesday photo shows the egress side of this door. What’s wrong with this picture??

Decoded: Stairwell Reentry (December 2016)

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. 🙂

Is this an urban legend?

This question has come up yet again…Is it true that people can exit more quickly through a pair of doors with a mullion than through a pair without a mullion?

WW: Screwed

I am going to remain Wordless about these photos, except to say THANK YOU to Brett Africk of CBORD, who not only sent me a batch of photos of an opening he saw during a recent hotel stay, but also went BACK…

Egress Requirements for Door Openings

I’m working on one more whiteboard animation video for this year, and I’d love some feedback! What are the basic egress requirements for door openings?

QQ: Can panic hardware be installed on a door that doesn’t lead to an exit?

In almost all cases, panic hardware is used on doors which are in the path of egress that eventually leads to the exit discharge. But – is it acceptable to install panic hardware on inswinging doors?

WW: Egress Route or Storage Space?

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photos come with a challenge…if you saw this situation, reported it to the facility manager, and the facility manager asked for proof of why it’s unacceptable, what code paragraph would you show him?

Means of Egress Reliability

So where do the model codes say that the stored materials shown in the photos are creating an egress problem? There are several places…

KEYNOTES: Enhancing K-12 Security

Despite the dramatic advances in construction, technological tools and safety protocols that have been made in the past two decades, this progress is not always evident in many of our nation’s K-12 buildings…

QQ: Are deadbolts prohibited in a means of egress?

I’ve had several situations where an AHJ interpreted the term “bolt lock,” used in the International Building Code (IBC), to mean a deadbolt…

Dangerous Door Locks

This news report highlights a security situation that most people don’t think about. While key-operated locks (keyed on the egress side) are allowed in certain locations, there are strict guidelines for their use…

WW: Thankful

GR Zechman of Allegion sent me this photo, after trying to exit through this door and stopping to investigate why the door wouldn’t open. As I told GR, this photo literally brought tears to my eyes…

WW: Airport Observations

I spent a lot of time in airports today, and here are a few Wordless Wednesday observations…

FF: Dogging Clamps

Not to name-drop, but when the executive leadership team starts noticing and sharing oddball hardware applications, it warms my heart. 😀

Responsibility for Safety

Over the years I’ve had many people ask me, “If I’m the last person to work on this door, could I be held responsible for existing code problems with the opening?”

Dormitory Tragedy – Ankara, Turkey

Last week I was contacted by an architect from Istanbul, about a recent fire that occurred in a girls’ dormitory there. There were 12 fatalities…

DSSF: Opening the Door to School Safety

The Door Security and Safety Foundation has announced a video and public relations campaign which stresses the importance of securing classroom doors without compromising life safety…

Schlage LM9200

A couple of weeks ago I was in our office in Carmel, and I noticed something about the conference room doors. Do you see what caught my eye?

Holiday Door Decorating

Now, before you call me Scroogette, I do love doors and holiday decorating, and I can understand the appeal. BUT, there are a few rules to keep in mind…

Fire Doors in the News

Happy New Year! There was lots of door-related news over the holidays…

WW: Shoe Storage

Today’s Wordless Wednesday post is from Brian Rafferty, via the Fire and Life Safety Inspectors group on Facebook. I’ve got nothing to say about this one.

FF: Peace on Earth

Here’s a little holiday leftover…Ed Shimpock of Seven Oaks Hardware sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo of a pair of doors that were tied shut to prevent latecomers from entering during the holiday church service…

Quizlet: Occupancy Classifications and Hazard of Contents – NFPA 101

I decided to try something new – a program called Quizlet, which allows me to create study materials and a test on whatever topic I want to teach about…

Architects’ Journal: Form Studio completes reworking of ‘cookie cutter’ nineties flat

Looking at the photos that accompany the article, the closing device is mounted in the door edge. Has anyone used this type of product?

Quizlet: Use Groups – International Building Code (IBC)

Following up on Monday’s post about NFPA 101 occupancy classifications, here are the study materials for the IBC use groups. The IBC further divides some of the use groups into sub-groups…

WWYD? Sensor Release

When I took the photo, the sensor did not unlock the electromagnetic lock until I actually touched the door and the movement of my hand triggered the sensor. It seems obvious that the sensor should not be positioned behind the exit sign (or any obstruction)…

NFPA Journal: Classroom door locking against unwanted entry, By Ron Coté

As I’ve said before, with regard to classroom security code changes, NFPA 101 is on a slightly different schedule than the the ICC codes. Although changes to the 2018 editions of the IBC and IFC have already been approved…

FF: Exit Sign Position

Sometimes when I ask people if the door they are asking about is a required means of egress, the response will be “No – there is no exit sign.” Lots of required egress doors don’t have exit signs…

DHI – Safely Securing the Built Environment through Building, Fire, and Life Safety Codes (video)

This is a good introductory video from the Door & Hardware Institute on how codes impact our industry. For additional training on codes…

WW: Double-Bar Security Device

Daniel Cannon of Allegion sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos of the back door of a restaurant. What say you?

FF: 4 Door Lock Gadgets (video)

One of my fire marshal pals sent me this Fixed-it Friday video. Neither of us recommending the use of these gadgets, but the dogs are super-cute and I always like to see people’s lock-related inventions…

Man-Traps in Schools

This morning I found an article in my news alerts: Roxbury Eyes Spending $580K on “Man Traps” for Schools. My first thought…”Oh. No.”

WW: STOP! And I really mean it!

Thank you to David R. Defilippo AIA for today’s Wordless Wednesday photo…

Decoded: School Security Update (March 2017)

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…

FF: Duct Tape

Am I the only one who is curious about whether the tape is to keep the bolt projected for security, or retracted for safety? (I have my suspicions.)

Nightclub Tragedies Remembered

When a tragedy occurs, there is often an immediate response – a call for solutions to avoid similar incidents in the future…

WW: Retail Exit Pair

Tim Weller of Allegion sent me this Wordless Wednesday photo. I have nothing to say about it. I’m just going to cry now.

WW: Blackout

I was checking out the iDH stats, and I noticed that there have been a few days lately when we’ve almost reached 2,000 visits.  Today could be the day, because I KNOW you will want to share the link to today’s Wordless Wednesday photo which was sent to me by Brent Kiernan of Allegion. Just […]

New York Times: Girls Killed in Guatemala Fire May Have Been Locked In

The idea of locking 52 girls in a classroom measuring 4 meters x 4 meters is something I hope would never happen in the US…

Decoded: Recent and Upcoming Changes to the Model Codes (April 2017)

When I started increasing my focus on the code requirements that affect our industry, I looked forward to receiving the new editions of the model codes and standards, so I could page through them and find out what was new…

WW: Beer Run

How is it possible that NOBODY else seems to notice stuff like this??

FF: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy Fixed-it Friday, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

WW: Blinds

A fire marshal sent me this photo, and I’m Wordless (again). How does anyone think this is acceptable???

Decoded: Egress Requirements for Door Openings (video)

Our next group of whiteboard animation videos is ready!

Looking Back: Nickel Mines PA School Incident

From the moment a gunman began shooting 10 girls in an Amish schoolhouse last year, 2½ agonizing minutes ticked by before state police were able to force their way into the barricaded building…

WW: Army/Navy Store

I received today’s Wordless Wednesday photo from Charles Anderson, and yes – he contacted the fire marshal…

WWYD? 1 Operation, or 2?

I need your help. The topic of today’s post could affect life safety for decades, and I hope you will read it and leave some feedback…

WW: Convention Center

I need to make an avatar of me crying, to include with these posts.

Decoded: Panic Hardware Refresher (May 2017)

It has been a while (6 years!) since I have written about the code requirements that apply to panic hardware in my Decoded column, so it’s time for an update…


These are truly some of the best Wordless Wednesday photos I’ve ever seen, and I even got the backstory…

WW: Exit Bolt

My husband: “Do other people cry on Wednesdays or is it just you?”

2-Operation Follow-Up

When a proposal was made to add a reference in Chapter 7 to the exceptions for 2 operations, the Technical Committee on Means of Egress almost unanimously opposed this change…

WW: Brussels Hotel

This is not the first time I’ve thought to myself…I hope everyone knows how lucky we are to have (mostly) code-compliant exits in the US…

I need you.

Let’s not look back on this moment in history and think, “If only we had done something…”

WW: This door to remain unlocked…

Austin Bammann of Central Indiana Hardware sent me this Wordless Wednesday photo.  You may notice that there is signage above the door stating, “This door needs to remain unlocked during business hours.”  Does this signage make the opening code-compliant?  Why, or why not? You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Classroom Security AND Classroom Safety – Why Compromise? (June 2017)

The graphic that will appear with this article in Doors & Hardware illustrates a potential application for existing classroom doors if the 2-operation language is approved…

QQ: Required Swing of Double-Egress Pairs

I could have sworn that I had already answered this question on iDigHardware, but there are almost 2,000 posts and I can’t find one that specifically addresses this…Is there a required “hand” for a double-egress pair?

WW Follow-Up

Last week I posted a photo and asked if the signage made the door code-compliant. As many people commented, the short answer is “no.” It’s hard for me to resist a “teachable moment”…

FF: Rebar

The application in these Fixed-it Friday photos looks like a result of poor planning to me. Thank you to Mark Kuhn of Allegion for sending them!

Classroom Security Risk Transfer – Paul Timm, PSP

On a fairly regular basis, someone sends me a video clip or a link to a news story, asking, “Have you seen this classroom lockdown device?”

FF: Mystery in Maine

Here’s what I know. At one time, this door was in an isolation ward that was part of a Maine psychiatric hospital campus built in 1957…

WW: ABC7NY – Underground Dance Dangers

Call me naive, but I always assume that when tragedy strikes, people will learn from it and try to avoid similar incidents in the future. Unfortunately, ignorance mixed with greed often stand in the way of life safety…

WW: Mall Exit

What do you think? Is this Wordless Wednesday exit visible enough?

Vote for Life Safety

NASFM is certainly aware of the need to protect our schools and businesses from senseless acts of violence, however we feel strongly we must carefully consider the solutions being proposed…

A Tale of Two Schools

I read the two news stories below on the same day, which struck me as ironic. When it comes to security and safety, you can take the easy, fast, and cheap approach, or take the time to carefully consider the issues and alternatives and invest in a suitable solution…

NFPA 101 – The Votes Are In

As many of you know, yesterday was the NFPA Technical Meeting where NFPA members voted to decide whether NFPA 101 should allow two releasing operations for classroom doors, or continue to require one releasing operation to unlatch the door for egress…

New Code Changes for Classroom Doors

Now that the NFPA 101 vote has passed, the 2018 model codes will be pretty consistent with regard to classroom security. I pulled together information from the IBC, IFC, and NFPA 101 for this article…

WW: Guest House Egress

This signage designates the egress path from rooms in a small hotel / guest house in a city on the east coast. Note the exit sign over the window inside of one of the (locked) rooms, and instructions to break out the panel in the door…

The Story Behind Von Duprin

Many of you have heard this story before, but this video is terrific! See if you can catch the original price of panic hardware in the catalog shown in the video! 🙂

Stack Pressure (video)

Have you run into problems with the effects of building stack pressure on the operation of doors? Here’s a new whiteboard animation video that explains the basics of stack pressure…

Cost Savings vs. Life Safety

Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades…sound familiar?

WW: Hey Kool-Aid!!!

I don’t remember seeing anything in the model codes that supports a Kool Aid Man egress model. Do you?

Stairwell Reentry Update

Are locks on stair doors required to be hard-wired locks which unlock upon power failure?

WW: Kool-Aid Follow-Up

Last week I posted a photo of the egress side of a “door” through some sheetrock that had been scored. Jonathan Mathew Taylor just sent me this photo of the other side…

Decoded: Access-Controlled Egress Doors (Updated May 2019)

This post was published in the August 2017 issue of Doors & Hardware . This issue continues to arise on a regular basis, so I’m hoping to clarify it once and for all.  The sections entitled “Access-Controlled Egress Doors” – found in past editions of both NFPA 101–Life Safety Code and the International Building Code […]

FF: You Get What You Pay For

I have run out of words. Is this the best we can do to secure our classrooms? 🙁

WW: Party Prep

Rich McKie sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo of a high school lobby, which was being prepared for a “Dry Grad” overnight graduation party coordinated by a parent committee…

FF: “Please help – I’m stuck in here.”

This is why doors are required to provide free egress.  Even doors used by very few people, leading to tiny rooms that may need more security than the average closet. | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi From You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

WW: Essence Superlounge

“At around 8:45 p.m., Captain Michael Flot of the New Orleans Fire Department faced an angry crowd of hundreds outside of the Essence Superlounge to tell them they would not be able to see Xscape that night. ‘This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,’ Flot said.”

Why two-operation release is not an option – Joseph Hendry Jr., PSP, CLEE

Joseph Hendry Jr., PSP, CLEE has written the guest blog post below, to share his experience in law enforcement regarding human behavior in an emergency. This relates directly to the question of whether NFPA 101 should continue to limit egress doors to one releasing operation or should allow two operations to release the latch.

NFPA 101 Appeals and Testimony

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, shortly after the NFPA Technical Meeting on June 7th, two appeals were filed. These appeals were submitted in favor of keeping the proposed changes to NFPA 101 that would allow 2 releasing operations instead of 1…

WW: Mall Exit

Why is it that when something goes wrong with the existing hardware, some facilities use the hardware equivalent of a band-aid rather than repairing or replacing the hardware?

Sensor Bars for Egress

Last week a code official contacted me because he had seen some egress doors in a school that were equipped with sensor bars used to release electromagnetic locks…

FF: Deadbolt Retrofit

These photos, from Kelly Reese of Allegion, qualify for the double-whammy – Wordless Wednesday AND Fixed-it Friday. But don’t worry…it is indeed Friday! Have a great weekend!

Sneak Peek

I told you we were going to have fun this week, right? Well, what could be more fun than a quiz to help you learn about codes? 😀 But first, I have to tell you something…

QQ: Selected Reentry

What is “selected reentry” and when can it be used?

WWYD? Courtyard Doors

In this school it appears that by preventing access to the courtyard, the school is not required to provide free egress from the courtyard…

Decoded: Securing Parking Garages (September 2017)

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…

WW: Emergency Exit

I. Have. No. Words.

WWYD? Posted Occupant Load

Have you ever noticed a sign stating the maximum occupant load of a room? How about a sign stating that the maximum occupant load is 49 people? I’ve seen several signs stating the 49-person limit, and I recently received a question that made me ponder this…

FF: Lockout

This is not the intended use of this device. Anyone know what it’s for?

Guatemala and Beyond…

As I promised yesterday, here are a few doors from my recent trip to Guatemala. We saw so many amazing doors – big ones, small ones, ornate doors and utilitarian doors, lots of wicket doors, cool door knockers and other hardware…

FF: NFPA 101-2018 on Classroom Security

This post has a lot going on. First, since it’s Fixed-it Friday and I don’t want to disappoint anyone, here’s a photo from Bill Stock of Johnson Hardware…

Duck Test

This morning I was reading an article about an exit problem at the Mineta San Jose International Airport in California…

WW: Hinge-Hasp

Thank you to Curtis Meskus for these Wordless Wednesday photos.  This pair leads to a storage room in a motel.  I have a feeling these will show up in one of my nightmares sometime soon.   You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.

23 Fatalities in Malaysia Dormitory Fire

Security bars or grilles are common on windows in many developing countries and in other areas where security is a major concern…

WW: How You Can Help Spot Fire Hazards

I was so excited to see this video from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s office talking about egress and fire hazards, but I noticed a little problem with one of the doors. Can you find it?

FF: Find Another Exit

Today’s Fixed-it Friday photos are from Leo Lebovits at M&D Door & Hardware. Someone had the forethought to remove the exit sign…I wonder if this was approved by the AHJ…

WW: Emergency Escape Chute

This video made the rounds on social media last week. I will refrain from commenting since it is Wordless Wednesday…

QQ: More on Stairwell Reentry

The questions about stairwell reentry never seem to end. I think it’s time to work on some code development proposals to add some clarity…

FF: Doggie Door?

Guess what this is for. And once you figure it out, what do you think about the potential impact on free egress?

WW: School Entrance Security

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photos were sent by Austin Bammann of Central Indiana Hardware. This is NOT the way I would provide security at the entrance to a school. 🙁

WW: Warehouse Exit

I really don’t know what to say about this Wordless Wednesday photo, which was sent to me by Jim Heberlein of Block Iron & Supply Company. The good news is, the doors and hardware are being replaced!

Decoded: Code Requirements for Classroom Security

Our last whiteboard animation video for this year will address the 2018 model code requirements for classroom security…

Specifying Zombie-Resistant Door Openings (Update)

While ensuring code-compliance, of course! On Halloween, 2013, I wrote a blog post about how to specify zombie-resistant door openings that are also code-compliant.  At the time, this post was one of my most frequently-read pieces, but since 2013 the traffic has increased almost 3-fold!  With so many new readers, I’m positive that some of […]

WWYD? Bumper Cars

Leo Lebovits of M&D Door & Hardware sent me these photos from a recent trip to an amusement park. Are these doors code-compliant for a building of this type? Why, or why not?

WW: “Anger as table is spotted in front of fire door…”

This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of…an article in the Somerset (UK) News about someone tweeting their anger regarding the placement of a table and chair in front of an egress door!

WWYD? IBC Changes

This is our big chance to propose some changes to the IBC, to help make it easier to interpret, and to address new developments in products or technologies, or new safety issues that have arisen…

FF: LTR Panics

Well, this is one way to solve the problems with your panic hardware – NOT! Thanks to Charles Anderson for these Fixed-it Friday photos!

Storage in Stairwells

Most of us know that stored materials don’t belong in stairwells, including the space under the stairs. But with square footage at a premium, we are sometimes asked to “prove it”…

Six Locked Doors

Today is the 75th anniversary of the fire at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston – one of the tragedies that had the biggest impact on the codes that pertain to doors, hardware, and means of egress. A new documentary recounts the stories of some of the survivors, and memorializes the 492 people who lost their lives that day.

WW: What’s missing?

This Wordless Wednesday video is from the Daily Mail…what’s missing from this application?

WW: Salty Crew

Rich Howard of Architectural Builders Supply sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. I’ll give it a C+ for effort, but an F for egress.

FF: Locks and Chains

Thank you to Brendan Daley for this Fixed-it Friday photo. I could fix this pretty quickly with a set of bolt cutters.

WW: Wisconsin Teen’s Door-Locking Device Offers Extra Safety In Active Shooter Situations

When this story was posted on Facebook yesterday, several people attempted to address the code issues associated with the teenager’s invention. A commenter posted a link to one of my articles, and another commenter called my article “a fallacy”!

WW: Antique Shop Emergency Exit

Deputy Jeff Tock of Allegion found this “emergency exit” while he was out antiquing. I wonder how building occupants are supposed to exit in an emergency…I guess the store is not expecting one to occur.

Rooftop Heliport Egress

The more of the “vanilla” topics that are covered on iDigHardware, the more “peppermint stick” the questions become!

WW: Another School Shooting

As another school shooting occurs, I struggle with what to write. Today is Wednesday, the day that I typically post a photo that leaves me wordless…

FF: Special Knowledge?

Looking at the signage, the unfamiliar locks, and the exposed wiring, I wondered if the average person would instinctively know how to exit, or whether an AHJ might think this opening requires “special knowledge”…

WW: Lockdown Lowdown

Since it’s Wordless Wednesday, here is a photo that Jim Phillips of SBS Associates sent me from a school walk-through. Luckily the school’s security precautions kept these intruders out.

FF: State to City College: Uninstall 1,000 Fire Code-Defying ‘Barricade Devices’

Yesterday, I read an article about a college in California that purchased and installed 1,000 barricade devices at a cost of more than $200,000, as recommended by the local police chief. The college later removed the devices, as they are not compliant with the building code and fire code in California, or with the ADA.

Decoded: Code Requirements for Classroom Security (video)

Our newest whiteboard animation video addresses the important topic of classroom security.

Code Requirements for Electromagnetic Locks (video)

I hope this video sums up the requirements in a way that will help answer any remaining questions.

WW: Retrofit Security

I’ll just leave this right here. Zoom in, look around, and share your thoughts in the reply box.

FF: College Entrance

It’s too bad someone at this facility didn’t ask for help BEFORE coming up with these locking “solutions.” 🙁

Decoded: Manually-Operated Sliding Doors (April 2018)

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.

WW: Classroom Security

“He believes school officials could do more to prepare teachers for intruders, whether by investing in padlocks so they aren’t scrambling for ways to barricade doors…”

FF: To exit, push the button…

Yes, there is an exit sign above this door.

WW: Ouverte (ou non)

Today’s Wordless Wednesday photos are from a very large expo center. Although the creative slide bolt was unlocked when the photo was taken, it’s scary to think about the potential for human error, or lack of egress for firefighters who might be in the building when it is otherwise unoccupied.

QQ: Roof Doors

Is it acceptable to lock the roof access door on the roof side, to prevent access from the roof into the building?

FF: Repurposed

It is just me, or does it seem like antique stores often have creative ways of deterring egress?

SFM issues policy on school security

Here is one state fire marshal’s answer to the school security question. What do you think?

Siberian Mall Fire

In an emergency, the ability to quickly evacuate can be key to survival. Life safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something, say something.


Today’s Wordless Wednesday photos came from Colin Watson of Allegion, who saw this sign in a coffee shop. I guess this is one way to address a non-code-compliant door.

FF: Double Bolts

I recently ran across a Facebook page that could supply us with Fixed-it Friday photos until the end of time (or until I retire).

Classroom Security Considerations (May 2018)

I’m hoping this piece sums up the concerns associated with classroom barricade devices and can be used as reference material when discussing options for school security.

WW: Blocked Exit

A fire station? REALLY?? This reminds me of a fire station I visited a while back…

Short-Term Rentals

So let’s say that I’m thinking about renting out my college-bound daughter’s bedroom on Airbnb to help offset the cost of her books and fees. Does her bedroom door need to be a fire door? Is my house now a small hotel?

Amsterdam Free Library

What’s the problem with this door? Any ideas?

WW: Break Out

I think these Wordless Wednesday photos may permanently affect my ability to speak.

Training Opportunity (with AIA and DHI credit)!!

I just found out about a great opportunity on Friday, May 11th for you to attend our Code Update Roundtable!

Special-Purpose Doors for Compartmentalization

What do you think about using a special-purpose door for security compartmentalization?

WW: Fixed Forever

We’ve all seen the back-of-house doors in shopping malls…they’re often good examples of what-not-to-do.

WWYD? IBC Proposal: Control Vestibules / Interlocks

BHMA has proposed a change to the 2021 IBC, to create some guidelines for interlocks – called “control vestibules” in the proposed code language. We need your help to get this right!

NFPA 3000 – Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released a new standard – NFPA 3000 – which sets guidelines for Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER).

Fewer Doors –> Fewer School Shootings?

One headline that caught my eye was from the Washington Post: “Texas official says that fewer doors could mean fewer school shootings. We had experts weigh in.”

WWYD? Bleacher Access/Egress

It seems like it must be a fairly common situation, so let me know if you have seen it before or have ideas about a solution that would be acceptable to the AHJ.

WW: Security consultant recommendations violated fire codes

Watching this news report brought a little tear to my eye. FINALLY, someone in the media is talking about both sides of the equation – safety AND security.

Decoded: Model Code Changes for Delayed Egress Locking Systems (July 2018)

The code requirements addressing delayed egress have evolved since they were first introduced in the 1981 edition of NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, and that evolution continues with the 2018 editions of both NFPA 101 and the International Building Code (IBC).

FF: Fail Safe Failure

There is a lesson behind today’s Fixed-it Friday photo. Upon first glance you see an exterior door locked with padlocks and a chain attached to the lever on an adjacent door. But why?

WW: Old Fire Hose

As a last resort, I support using whatever is on hand to secure/barricade the door. But if we have time to look at the school’s current situation and plan the response – is this REALLY the best we can do?

Consistency is Key

Why would state legislators consider removing a requirement that ensures free egress and the option of evacuating, and replacing it with language that allows just about anything?

WW: Why Bother?

These Wordless Wednesday photos, from Geno Markette of Yates and Felts, are not just your run-of-the-mill padlocked-gate photos.

Maximum Door Width

Ann Timme of Allegion sent me this photo the other day and it reminded me to tell you about a potential change to the International Building Code (IBC).

WW: Safety vs. Security

I’m confused about this conflict between newly-adopted code requirements and what the media is reporting. Can anyone share some insight?

WWYD? Key-Operated Surface Bolt

These doors are serving a church, and currently have key-operated deadbolts at the bottom of each leaf. The deadbolts are too low for the reverends to reach comfortably.

School Superintendents Association Shares Information on Barricade Devices

The School Superintendents Association (AASA) is sharing safety concerns about classroom barricade devices with their 13,000+ members. Visit iDigHardware to get a copy of the document that is being distributed.

Decoded: NFPA 3000 (August 2018)

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

QQ: Elevator Lobby Egress

Can elevator lobby doors be locked, and only allow egress through the tenant space when there is a fire alarm?

WW: What’s wrong with this picture?

See anything odd in these Wordless Wednesday photos from Scott Straton of Allegion?

QQ: Manual Rearm for Delayed Egress

Does a delayed egress lock have to be rearmed manually after power failure and fire alarm release, or only when the 15-second timer is activated by an attempt to exit?

Mini Doors

What do you think about these mini doors? Any code issues?

WW: Happy 4th!

Technically these classroom doors were probably decorated for Veterans Day but they’re the most patriotic doors I could find. What do you think…code-compliant or not?

Advisory – School Emergency Planning and Door Locking

Over the past year I’ve been collecting school security information from various states, and adding links to the school security page of iDigHardware. Last week I received an advisory from Greg Thomson of Allegion, that made me so happy I got a little misty.

WW: Big Box

Jim Elder of Secured Design not only saw this situation and sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos, he alerted employees of the store about the problem. Kudos to Jim!

Health/Life Safety Glossary

One of the difficulties faced by those of us advocating for code-compliant school security is the public perception that many states are allowing classroom barricade devices. This is not true…

Murals in Memory Care

Because of some photos and videos making the rounds on social media, I’ve received quite a few emails about the use of murals to disguise doors in memory care units.

WW: Exit Alarm

Today’s my birthday and I’ve got a Wordless Wednesday present for you. Look closely at this grocery store exit…any theories about what is happening here, or how it operates in an emergency?

What is NFPA’s stance on barricade devices?

During a segment of NFPA Live, Robert Solomon, Division Director of NFPA, was asked about barricade devices on egress doors.

Dwelling Unit Clarifications

While most dwelling units and sleeping units are allowed to have hardware on the entrance door that requires two operations to unlatch, there are a couple of important considerations.

The stories behind NFPA 3000

As I have mentioned before, it’s one thing to look at a code or standard and see a book. It’s another thing to look at a code or standard and understand the driving force behind it.

FF: Switched/Sensor Bar

Although electromagnetic locks are easier than some other electrified hardware to retrofit, I try to avoid using them in schools whenever possible. How about you?

WWYD? Library Entrance

Do these doors on a college library meet the requirements of the International Building Code (IBC)? Why or why not? WWYD if you were the AHJ?

Decoded: Deadbolts in a Means of Egress (October 2018)

Even if you think you know all about deadbolts, check out this article and see if I missed anything. There are a few things that might come as a surprise.

WW: Retail at the Beach

When some people go to the beach, they take photos of sunsets and sea creatures. I take photos of doors, panic hardware, and non code-compliant attempts to mitigate water infiltration. Enjoy! 🙂

WW: College Dorm Exit Stair

This summer I visited quite a few colleges, and this dorm left me Wordless. 🙁 Can you find all of the code-related issues with these fire doors and egress doors?

QQ: Break-Glass Switches

I’ve received this question many times over the years…Can a break-glass switch be used to unlock a door in the means of egress?

WWYD? Sensors for Electrified Hardware

What’s the best/most reliable/most secure technology for a request-to-exit sensor in an access control system? If you have a preference, tell me why in the reply box (please).

WW: Movie Theater – No Exit

Someone obviously knew that they were rendering the exit unusable…I just wonder if anyone confirmed that this egress door was no longer required.

WWYD? Push-to-Exit Switch

Are pneumatic switches required as the auxiliary release devices for sensor-release electrified locking systems? Or are other types of switches acceptable? Please share your insight and experience!

OSFM Letter on Classroom Security

Thank you to everyone who forwarded this letter from the Office of the State Fire Marshal. I appreciate your help keeping track of what is happening in each state.

WW: Work It Out

Have your friends and family started noticing hardware problems and code issues? Or do they still roll their eyes when you stop to take photos to submit for Wordless Wednesday or Fixed-it Friday?

FF: Mechanical Ingenuity

This door is on an auto repair shop that was broken into, and it looks like they have taken matters into their own hands…

Church Pair Revisited

Do you know what I love even more than photos showing a door problem? Photos showing a solution! Do you have any before-and-after photos to share?

Decoded: Code Requirements for Hotels and other Residential Occupancies (November 2018)

Code issues are not uncommon in hotels, apartment buildings, and other residential occupancies. My next Decoded article addresses some things to look for.

FF: Fragile Door

Don’t worry about this fragile door, the “fix” has completely solved the problem. Thank you to Colin Watson of Allegion for today’s Fixed-it Friday photos!

Decoded 4: Codes for Electrified Hardware (with AIA CEUs!)

Of all the code requirements that apply to doors and hardware, electrified hardware raises the most questions. Here’s a training opportunity to help!

WW: Special Knowledge and Effort

These doors are an egress problem waiting to happen, and on an assembly occupancy where large numbers of people may need to exit quickly…

Classroom Security – 4 Questions

It has been 74 days since I have written about classroom barricade devices. This refresher is posted by request, and in honor of Safe Schools Week.

WW: I’m at a loss for words…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. This is in direct conflict with everything I learned about life safety in hardware school.

FF: Classic Fix

Fire marshal to restaurant owner: “This door requires panic hardware because the occupant load is over 50 people.” Restaurant owner: “Done!”

Bullpen Doors

In case you haven’t had enough baseball, John Cohrs of Central Indiana Hardware sent me this photo of the bullpen door from last night’s World Series game (nice hardware!).

WW: Happy Halloween!

It’s that time of year again…when teachers get creative and their classroom doors become the canvas. Don’t forget the rules of holiday door decorating!

FF: Employees Only

How does a building owner or property manager justify locking and partially blocking a door that is clearly marked with an exit sign above it? #wordless

Which code, when, and where?

When you’re interpreting the code requirements for a particular building, how do you know which code or standard to reference?

Fire Marshal Guidance for Unplanned Fire Alarms

Remember when a fire alarm during the school day meant exiting immediately in an orderly fashion and enjoying a few minutes away from our desks? Times are changing.


What would you do if you were in this situation? It’s not always easy to do the right thing, but could you live with yourself if something happened?

FF: Social Hall

In the US we often take life safety for granted, and non-compliant door openings stick out like a sore thumb. In other countries, stringent codes and enforcement are less common.

QQ: Posted Occupant Load

When are facility managers and building owners required to post signs stating the occupant load of a room or area?

WW: Happy Thanksgiving!

iDigHardware will be on break until Monday, so enjoy the holiday weekend (if you’re celebrating), and don’t forget the rules of holiday door decorating!

WW: Von Duprin 44s!

I admit it. I have a thing for old hardware – especially when it’s still functional, and even better when it’s ours!

WW: Sorties, ou non?

Thank you to Frederic Horrell of Allegion Canada, for today’s Wordless Wednesday photo!

FF: Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

For everyone who has asked, I’m feeling quite a bit better – thanks! The cough is still lingering a bit, but hopefully it will clear up before I head to Carmel next week.

WW: Door is Broken

The sad thing about situations like this is that they often stay as-is for YEARS. In this particular case, the sign appears to be laminated or in a plastic sheet protector.

FF: Sobriety Test

So many people sent me this Fixed-it Friday photo from Reddit (thanks to all!) that I knew the rest of you would want to see it too. BTW…this is clever, but not code-compliant!

WW: What’s Wrong?

Eric Laidlaw of Jensen Hughes sent me these Wordless Wednesday photos…I’d love to hear your theories/analyses of what’s going on with this opening.

FF: Fight Your Way Out

This Fixed-it Friday photo is of an egress door serving a martial arts studio. It’s a good thing the students have special skills they can use in an emergency.

WW: Fire Hose Security, Revisited

As I’ve said before…as a last resort anything goes, but THIS SHOULD NOT BE PLAN A! Do you agree or disagree?

Escape Room Tragedy

When we think about code-compliance, it’s not just about lines on a page in a book. It’s about reducing the risk of tragedies like this one.

WW: Classroom Egress

Andrew Harris of Willis Klein sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo, and it’s disheartening. This is the exterior door of a middle school classroom with one or more students who have special needs.

WWYD? Classroom Exit Alarm

I really need your expertise on this one…talk to me about exit alarms to deter the use of classroom doors, or to at least notify the teacher that someone has opened the door.

NFPA 3000 Webinar – Archived Recording

One part of this webinar that got my attention was the EMS perspective on how a delay in accessing the classroom could affect the medical outcome. The archived webinar is linked in this post.

WW: Delayed Egress Retrofit

Joe Fazio of Precision Doors & Hardware sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photo. I don’t know what to say. How about you?

QQ: Monitored or Recorded Egress

Quick Question: Is it code-compliant for a card reader on the egress side of the door to be used to monitor who uses the door?

FF: Southeast Asia Airport

A knob, lever, AND a mag-lock? And what’s with the stainless plates? Are they covering old vision lights or do you think they were “original equipment”?

WW: Wordless

I have spent two days trying to figure out what to write in this post. I’m still thinking.

WWYD? Deadbolt + Mag-Lock

Is it code-compliant to add a deadbolt to a door with a mag-lock, that can be used to lock the door during a power failure?

WW: Rocky Mountain Mercantile

The horizontal bars on this “emergency exit” are padlocked to hasps welded to the door – likely to prevent theft – AND EGRESS!

WW: Ladder Lock

Sometimes when Wordless Wednesday rolls around, I really am Wordless. Today is one of those Wordless Wednesdays.

Locksmith Ledger: Electromagnetic Locks – 7 Applications and the Codes That Apply

How do you choose which code section to use?

WW: Trampoline Park

I get it.  The trampoline park needs to keep kids from eloping.  What would you propose as a solution?

WW: Solve for Tomorrow Competition

I love the idea of putting our heads together to search for solutions, but inventors need to consider authorized access, free egress, and accessibility, in addition to security.

FF: Hard-Wired Exit

Take a look at these egress doors serving a large arena. The struggle for security is real, but we can’t forget about life-safety in the process!

Wicked Local: School’s Locks Violate Codes

A news report hit my inbox a few days ago, which discussed a security situation in a Massachusetts elementary school; some classroom barricade devices had been installed in 2014…

WW: Please use other door.

When my coworker mentioned this door to two different employees, they said they have brought it up with the manager, but the decision was “above their pay grade”…

Decoded: Why Barricade Devices? (May 2019)

Why would a school district consider using unregulated security devices, given the associated risk and liability? The answer may surprise you.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Tragedy

This week marks the anniversary of a tragic fire that heavily impacted life safety codes and requirements for worker safety. It’s important to understand these tragedies, to avoid repeating them.

AP News: ‘It doesn’t open’

Fifty people died in the shootings at the two mosques in Christchurch.  How many could have survived if the egress door had allowed immediate evacuation?

WW: Let’s Book!

I have had requests for help specifying doors like this, but not on a marked exit!  This door is serving a business occupancy.  What do you think – OK, or NO WAY?

New York in the News

These news stories both happen to be from New York City, and both address topics that made me go hmmm… What do you think?

WW: Wordless…

Jeff Rapp of Wilkus Architects sent me today’s Wordless Wednesday photos. I hope whatever this facility is trying to protect is worth the risk.  🙁

Barricade Devices – Three Perspectives

These 3 perspectives showed up in my Google Alerts today – a school district using barricade devices, a man working in a school who wanted to use barricading when he committed a shooting, and the legal perspective. Powerful.

WW: Convenient Storage Space

Yes, this is supposed to lead to an exit – an exterior stair from the second floor of a function space.  #wordless

FF: Why is this unacceptable?

I received this photo from Audrey Weiser of DHI – she was looking for some code language that would clearly state that this application is not allowed.  Unfortunately, there isn’t anything specific (that I can think of) in the model codes.

Kitsap Sun: Lawsuit alleges Bremerton teacher confined alone in classroom with violent student

It’s only a matter of time before we see the unintended consequences of non-code-compliant, untested, unregulated security devices.

ABC15: Hundreds of padlocks installed on prison cell doors

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this news story from ABC 15 in Arizona, about the fire and safety concerns associated with installing padlocks on prison cell doors.

UNCC ‘One-Button’ Lockdown

When a shooting occurred at the University of North Carolina Charlotte last week, an electronic locking system was already in place that allowed the campus to be locked down in seconds.

Colorado State Capitol Building – Denver

Have you visited your state capitol building to check out the doors and hardware? I’m adding locations to my bucket list!

WW: Push Button to Exit

Warning: Today’s Wordless Wednesday post is not wordless. Check out the video and scroll down for the words.

FF: Just wrench it open.

Got any old locksets, deadbolts, panic hardware or electrified hardware laying around? It would be a great help for firefighter training! Oh – and it’s also Fixed-it Friday!

FF: Panic Privacy

This door – yes, with panic hardware – is on a restroom in Italy.  The non-code-compliant hook modification solves the privacy problem. 😐

See the index for another category:

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