Fire-Rated and Non-Fire Rated Code Compliance
Q: Until I read your article in Security Dealer, I thought that Exit Devices were listed as Panic Hardware or Fire Exit Hardware. I have the 2003 edition of the Life Safety Code Handbook, and Section 126.96.36.199 refers to “Panic Hardware.” Is “Accident Hazard Devices” a late title change?
Please bring me up to speed. I won’t work on Exit Door Locks, unless the customer lets me bring the doors up to the latest “Life Safety Codes,” even though the AHJ hasn’t adopted them in the Municipal areas I work in.
A: With new building codes and new life safety technology, it is necessary for the security dealer to know the variations between the codes and the vernacular used.
Exit hardware; a.k.a. exit devices; a.k.a. panic bars, a.k.a. life safety equipment are divided into two groups: Fire-Rated and Non-Fire Rated. Ironically, they are called panic bars even though they are used in non panic situations. These terms are all applied to help specifiers and AHJs better express the differences between pushbars, swing bars, paddle type devices and the many feature variations possible, without losing the significance of their fire rating.
I used the term “accident hazard” to differentiate between fire-rated and non-fire rated hardware, and to make a distinction between a basic locking device and one with additional functions and features.
Exit devices may be either fire rated or not. The fire rated ones must be used on labeled doors, while non-fire rated ones cannot.
A fire rated device can be used on a non-labeled door, but doing so does not affect the fire rating of the door assembly on which it has been installed. From a Code standpoint, doing so accomplishes nothing with regard to the opening’s fire rating. It may make it a safer system, and therefore, what you are doing for your clients is laudable. All dealers should do the same thing for every client.
A fire rated device may have additional features which qualify it as an accident hazard device, but an accident hazard device isn’t necessarily fire rated. Accident Hazard include the following features: audible and visual annunciation; remote signaling; remote monitoring; remote locking/unlocking; and delayed egress features. Multiple features may be combined on a door without jeopardizing each other’s fire-rating assuming the features are listed for such applications with the subject hardware (device). Exceptions would be multiple locking devices on a single opening, or equipment which requires drilling or non-approved modifications to the fire rated door assembly.
Your goal is to provide the professional installation of door hardware which is approved and in the case of fire rated openings, listed, for that application as per the building code for your jurisdiction, or as per the AHJ.
Here is a partial list of codes and agencies used in the U.S.:
ADA ICC NFPA80 ANSI NEMA SBCCI BOCA NFPA101 UL ICBO NFPA500
Additional resources: Von Duprin has a useful publication at www.vonduprin.com/fireandlifesafety.asp. Also, check out www.iccsafe.org, www.doorsafetycouncil.org), UL: http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/index.htm, and, www.nfpa.org.
Security Dealer Technical Editor Tim O’Leary is a 30-year veteran of the security industry and a 10-year contributor to the magazine. O’Leary’s background encompasses having been a security consultant since 1986 and an independent security company owner/operator, in addition to his research and evaluation of new technologies and products introduced to the physical and electronic security fields. He is a member of the VBFAA (Virginia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association); certified for Electronic Security Technician and Sales by the VADCJS (Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services); and, has served as a judge for the SIA New Product Showcase. Send your integration questions to Tim.Oleary@secdealer.com.