Securing the doors that allow access in and out of your building is generally considered to be a good, safe, secure idea. However, when that building is a commercial property with large human traffic coming in and out, you also need to know you will be able to evacuate the building quickly in case of an emergency. By taking some extra precautions, and following specific laws for commercial properties, you won’t have to worry about a panic mass exit or possible trampling in a hurry to get out. So, what exactly are these legal requirements, and does all commercial properties need panic hardware on their doors?
International Building Code IBC
The International Building Code IBC requires panic hardware on exit doors to be used as an exit device if the building has high traffic such as a library, an educational facility or an assembly hall that holds more than 50 people. It is also required on high-hazard occupancy buildings, which would include buildings that require equipment with high voltage, boiler rooms, incinerators, refrigeration machinery, or furnace rooms.
The purpose of requiring panic hardware is to make sure everyone inside is able to exit safely and quickly in case of an emergency.
It’s better to be safe than sorry
Just because the law only requires certain types of buildings install panic hardware doesn’t mean you cannot use this safety measure if your commercial building isn’t required by law to have it. You can still choose to do so.
If your commercial property is required by law, or if you want added safety precautions, the type of hardware and the way the installation is done also must comply with regulations. The actuating part of the exit device must be at least half of the width of the door. To unlatch it during an emergency, you must make sure that it requires no more than 15 pounds of pressure to open it, and never add a padlock or any chains or additional latches that would restrict its operations. Any touchpad that is used may not extend more than half the width of the door, starting from the latch side. Also, depending on where your building is located, you may be required to make sure your panic hardware will withstand a hurricane or tornado.
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