We are currently in the process of upgrading the security of our entire building. We are putting in an access card system to get away from the use of keys. The problem we have run into is that when we met with the fire marshal he informed us that in the event of a fire alarm going off that ALL doors must be automatically unlocked to allow for egress. While we understand the need for people to leave, this opens up some problems. One, we wanted to be able to lock down zones of the building in the event of a shooter or similar situation (panic alarm). Two, all someone would need to do is pull the fire alarm and then would have access to secure and unattended offices. I'm sure many of you have experience in these situations and can help with some ideas. This is in the state of Nebraska, I'm sure laws and code vary by state.
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Thread: Fire Codes and Secure doors
03-20-2013, 12:08 PM #1Junior Member
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- Mar 2013
Fire Codes and Secure doors
03-20-2013, 03:41 PM #2Senior Member
- Join Date
- May 2011
Gonna be a "non-starter" to override the Fire Marshall on fire codes. Only time I've ever heard of it was by Steve Jobs at Pixar Studios for some door handle hardware, but that was Steve Jobs.
So you will need to 'work around' it like everyone else.
I'm pretty sure "unlocked during fire" only means unlocked from INSIDE, card reader or not, so you should still be able to have a "panic room" for "active shooter", you just can't lock the shooter in a room as a solution. LOL.
I installed automatic magnetic hold-open closer and LOCKING doors at, IIRC:
Intuit Bldg 8
Casey Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043
The scheme included 'hidden' doors that were normally open in a big conference room that during a fire would SLAM SHUT and LOCK so that people would be forced to take the correct 'safe' route out.
Seemed crazy to me, especially since the doors were 'hidden'. Imagine you are in a crowded room, but you have been to few conferences there, then lights go out, fire strobes come on AND.....big steel doors start jumping out of "nowhere" and slamming the normal exit hall shut. What could possibly go wrong?
I hope your system doesn't RELY on electronic card system to allow people to escape in a fire. What happens if card reader system is where fire starts? I'm pretty sure any card system is only for ACCESS control, and HARDWARE needs to allow people to flee even after an Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb hits the building, and even after temps sore to plastic melting levels.
03-20-2013, 06:44 PM #3
This is a greatly misunderstood topic, even by some fire and building code officials.
If the building is now code complaint, it should already be possible to freely exit the building through the required exit doors. This is accomplished by mechanical means, using something like a mechanical exit devices that opens the door when you press the bar. It can also be accomplished using a standard cylindrical lock, which allows you to exit by simply turning the knob.
With the choice of proper electric hardware, adding card reader control to these types of doors simply provides another way to open the door - it does nothing to take away the existing methods that can be used to open the door. So if you can get out the door now by pressing a bar or turning a knob, it will still be possible to do this if you choose the right hardware. There is no need to unlock the door on fire alarm because you can still get out of the building just as you can now. Adding a card reader to control entry into the building does nothing to change this. If you are now locking something with a key and this is OK by code, you should be able to lock the same door with a card reader without a problem.
I would suggest that you work with a qualified architectural hardware consultant to help you select the proper types of hardware to keep the building safe and to conform to applicable codes.Michael A. Silva