Decoded: New Occupant Load Requirements for Panic Hardware (May 2011)
This post was printed in the May 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware
This post was printed in the May 2011 issue of Doors and Hardware
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. :-)
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!):
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 visited a jobsite today and saw some QEL devices in action. If you're not familiar with the QEL device, it is a *quiet* version of the electric latch retraction exit device. When the access control system (card reader, key fob, etc.) signals the door to unlock, the latch(es) retract to allow someone to pull the door open. You can always exit by pushing the touchpad. I have used the QEL device on several high-profile spaces where noise is an issue. I recently specified them for auditoriums at the United States Institute of Peace and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where the latches are held retracted while the auditorium is unlocked. As you can see in the video below, the touchpads are also held in while the latches are retracted so there will be no sound associated with exiting while the doors are unlocked.
Some creative and unusual hardware applications sent in by blog readers:
I spend a lot of time with architects, and sometimes I'm put in the awkward position of having to talk them out of trying to do something with doors that hasn't been successfully done before. Many times this involves glass doors, which are becoming more common, yet still have very few options for hardware. It's tough to make a glass door do anything innovative, when all of the locking hardware is paired with a fixed pull handle.
This application came across my desk last week and for the life of me I couldn't think of where someone would use it. I don't remember ever being asked for a rim cylinder with a thumbturn, and people ask me for all kinds of random things.
Last week I got a compliment about this site from a security consultant, and I asked him if there were any topics he'd like me to do a post about. He said that a post on electrified lever trim (E) vs. electric latch retraction (EL) would be helpful since he spends a lot of time explaining the difference to his clients. So Michael, this is for you, and everyone out there who has been wondering how to choose between the two.
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.
I've seen lots of creative ways of dogging fire exit hardware, but this one gets an "E" for Effort (along with an "F" for Fail). These devices are on fire doors in a hotel ballroom, and while someone went to great lengths on this modification, these doors are supposed to be self-latching to compartmentalize the building during a fire. The doors also had kick-down holders, so they're not self-closing either. :-(
Last night I went to a presentation at one of our 3 local middle schools, which I'm guessing was built in the 70's. What struck me right away was that the exterior doors are all about 10' tall, and the interiors are about 9' with a transom panel above. What a strange application for a school. They still seem to be working pretty well though.
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 surprise. I went to my chiropractor's office and in the 3-story stairwell, two doors were propped open by the construction crew doing a 2nd-floor office fit-up, and the third floor door's latchset had been removed and replaced with a push plate and pull. Ho-hum.
It has been a while since I've received a new batch of photos from Israel but these were worth the wait. The Hurva is a reconstructed synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem, with a long, storied history. Construction on the original synagogue began in the early 1700's, but the unfinished building was destroyed in 1721. It was rebuilt in 1864 and destroyed again in 1948. The most recent reconstruction began in 2005, and the reconstructed synagogue was officially opened on March 15, 2010.
Two of my defining projects as a hardware consultant have been the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. One of our other specwriters, Greg Thomson, currently has two museum projects in progress - the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard.
Back to business after a brief vacation in Costa Rica...
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.
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'm sure that some of you remember the family road trip I took last summer, and the fact that I took along a Falcon exit device, nicknamed Chip Falcon. If you missed it, or if you just want to see the Doors of Colonial Williamsburg again, here's a link to the series.
Here's another photo from my day at Build Boston. You don't see this application often - Blumcraft or CR Laurence tubular exit devices on wood doors. I think they look pretty nice. I would have done something different with the closers, and I wouldn't have specified a key cylinder (the chunky square thing above each pull) for each of the 4 leaves, but hindsight is 20/20.
I spent 10 hours yesterday attending seminars (or waiting for the next one to start) at Build Boston, the largest regional convention and trade show for the design and construction industry. There were over 200 workshops and 250 exhibitors, and I saw lots of architect and specifier friends, not to mention enough door and hardware applications to get me through the next week of blog posts.
Last week, someone asked me about code requirements related to panic hardware on balanced doors. 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, the codes used most often in the U.S. do contain applicable requirements.
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 dimes, but I've said it lots of times and sometimes people still have a hard time remembering it. Here's a true story that will help.
If you regularly check this site to find out what's new and exciting in the world of doors and hardware, you may have occasionally experienced a server error. Yesterday I asked the web hosting company to move the site to a more stable server to avoid these errors, which they agreed to do at midnight. I was very surprised to go to the site this morning and see the website for the Philanthropy Advisors of New York at our URL! Everything seems to be working now, so thank you for your patience.
We had planned to get on the road early yesterday afternoon but we ended up leaving Williamsburg around 5 p.m., about the same time everyone else coming home from everywhere decided to leave. The traffic was terrible, and after 6 hours of driving we had gone as far as Elkton, Maryland and couldn't stay in the car for one more mile.
We're on our way home today, and barring any surprises we'll arrive tomorrow. For the first time we're hitting the road without knowing where we'll be sleeping tonight, but I'm sure we'll find a hotel and if not, I'll be calling my Mid-Atlantic or Metro New York SSC buddies to see who has room at the inn.
If there weren't a lot of doors at Busch Gardens, there were even less at Water Country, where we spent the day today. For me, a day without hardware is like a day without sunshine, but I survived. Since I don't have any funky applications from today, I'll answer a question from the mailbag. Debbie asked whether my husband is along on this road trip, since I haven't mentioned him. I actually have mentioned him...not as often as I've mentioned Chip, but I did give him credit for spotting the Falcon bumper sticker the other day. In fact, I've mentioned him 5 times during our trip so yes, he is with me, but he refuses to pose for photos with hardware or even doors. Go figure.
We're in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the good news is that the specwriter Chip and I came to see has agreed to include Falcon exit devices in his specifications! Yippee!
It's true! The new Falcon 24/25 device has a 10-year mechanical warranty (1-year electrical).
There are almost 600 Cracker Barrel restaurants in the United States and I've been to most of them. Well...not most, but a bunch. The kids like the food and there's a lot of miscellaneous stuff on the walls that we can use to play, "Who can find the _______?" When you drop a whole cup of milk on the floor (like this morning) they don't bat an eye. At least you always know what to expect...every Cracker Barrel has basically the same menu, the same "country store" selling stuff my kids can't live without, the same rocking chairs and checker boards on the porch, and the same entrance doors.
For all of you loyal late Friday afternoon and weekend blog readers, here's another opportunity to win something from the Ingersoll Rand prize vault. This morning, Chip visited the statue at left - where are we? If you think you know, click here and scroll down to leave a comment with the answer. I will hold all of the answers until the end of Chip's Road Trip and then choose one lucky winner from all of the correct entries. If you need a hint, the statue is located at the end of a bridge that leads to a set of *keys*. Hey wait! Is that a FALCON on his arm patch?? ;-)
When Chip heard that we'd be passing through Atlanta he insisted on visiting the Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons. We stopped for a look around, and he gawked at the banks of multiple exit doors, all equipped with Von Duprin 99 devices. It was a proud moment for Chip, especially since the Falcon 24/25 and Von Duprin 98/99 were designed by the same engineers and share the Ingersoll Rand name.
We interrupt this road trip to announce that this website has received visitors from 50 different countries!!
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, and the most interesting hardware I found was in the President's One train car, which was built in 1916. There were double-acting spring hinges, a sliding door on a curved track, and some double-acting deadlatches - all still in working condition. Pretty cool. Click any of the thumbnails below if you're interested in seeing larger views of the photos.
We continued our road trip yesterday with a visit to the zoo and a drive through Amish Country. A stop in Paradise confirmed that they could use some Falcon 24/25 exit devices out there, and Chip's up to the challenge. As I've said before, I'm very picky about which products I specify, and after taking this new device apart and learning more about it I would be comfortable specifying it for a school project, especially when the budget is tight.
I guess it's only fair. If my family welcomes the new Falcon exit device along on our summer road trip, it should have a name that's a little easier for the kids to remember than 25-R-L. The first thing we had to determine was the gender of our device. Although boats and cars are generally female, apparently door hardware is typically male because it was unanimous. Given the fact that the Falcon 24/25 has some similar features to his relative, the Von Duprin 98/99, and considering the absolutely horrendous names chosen by my kids, our device has been christened...Chip. Chip Falcon. Sounds like a character Pierce Brosnan would play.
I recently received this photo from an architect who wanted to use the Von Duprin Inpact devices pictured here on another museum I'm working on. I've used these several times when an architect wanted the panic device powder coated a similar color to the door. As with LCN closers, Von Duprin panic hardware can be powder coated in a multitude of colors (refer to the Tiger Drylac brochure called RAL Exterior/Interior).
I'm a big fan of creative hardware applications like these PVC rod guards on an exterior pair in a high school, but I think they should have considered adding some bottom latch guards. The latches don't even have their covers! FYI...Von Duprin does manufacture rod and latch guards - the RG-27, also available as a rod guard only (RGO), a latch guard only (LGO), or an extended latch guard only (LGO-3' or 4').
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 used to close the bottom leaf in conjunction with the top leaf. An astragal should not be confused with a mullion, which sits between (fixed) or behind (removable) the meeting stiles of a pair.
I've spent several phone calls this week discussing "dogging" with one of my favorite clients. I guess it is kind of hard to keep straight if you're not a hardware person. The term "dogging" refers to holding the latch(es) of a panic device retracted to create a push/pull function. When the panic device is dogged, it is unlocked/unlatched and you can just pull on the door to open it. When the panic device is not dogged, it is latched and you need an active trim (like a lever) or a key to retract the latch(es) and open the door. In either case, free egress is achieved at any time by pushing on the touchpad or crossbar of the panic device.
This is one of those openings that makes me cringe...yuck! But I can't let a teachable moment go by. Yesterday I got a call from an architect who asked whether it was acceptable to put a panic device on one leaf of a pair when only that leaf is required for egress width. The codes aren't 100% clear on this, but I have had code officials require panics on both leaves of a pair even if only one leaf is required for egress. You also need to consider the alternative to using panics on both leaves...a panic on one leaf and auto flush bolts on the other. This application also requires a coordinator and overall it's a problematic application.
This article was written by Carl Prinzler, one of the creators of the original exit device, at the end of the 1930's. I think it's an interesting insight into the development of the first exit device and the code requirements at that time.
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 an Adams Rite deadlatch with a dark bronze lever. The lever was completely invisible and people started to gather behind me. If it had been a panic situation there could have been tragic consequences.
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, pressure plates, or other devices that are normally latched but open under simple pressure." According to an engineer I spoke with at the National Fire Protection Association, the releasing device could be a hospital latch or paddle-type release, but the fact that the words "panic bar" are used in the Code has prompted many code officials to require panic hardware.