WHY PANIC BARS ARE A MUST AT YOUR COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Do you have a public commercial building? Then it’s important to be aware that “panic hardware” is required to provide proper emergency egress and ingress. A “panic bar,” therefore, is the push bar that you must install on each exit door, to allow people to make a fast exit. There must also be an unobstructed and uninterrupted exit path to an area of safety. Doors with panic bars are often needed in malls, bars, restaurants, and other public places such as schools.
It goes without saying that you won’t pass inspection if your building is not up to code. It is therefore vital that you comply with the law when it comes to protecting your facility’s occupants. You’ll be guarding the safety of every occupant ~ employee, customer, client, and visitor alike.
Obey the law.
The International Fire Code (IFC), the International Building Code (IBC), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Code, are the most common building and fire safety codes used in the United States. You’ll need to determine which code, and which edition of that specific code, applies to your building. Local codes in your area may also apply. Make sure you’re fully compliant.
These requirements affect doors that either latch or lock. For example, panic hardware is not required for a free-swinging door with only a push plate and pull handle. On the other hand, panic hardware is required by code for certain occupancy types:
An “educational occupancy” refers to a school for children up to twelfth grade. A building used for college classrooms is considered a “business occupancy,” and some college classrooms are even large enough to be classified as an “assembly occupancy,” which refers to a building or area where large groups gather, such as a theater or a gymnasium. The NFPA 101 Code includes a separate occupancy classification for “daycare occupancy,” where daycare is provided to children or adults. A “high-hazard occupancy” (an area containing a high level of hazardous materials) is a space that is vulnerable to explosions.
Panic hardware considerations.
Panic hardware consists of a latching device, with a touchpad or crossbar that spans across at least half the width of the door, which will release the latch when pushed. Panic hardware can also be called a “crash bar” or an “exit device”; for fire doors, it’s referred to as “fire exit hardware.” This specialized hardware is used where it’s required by code to make it possible for a large number of people to get out very quickly. It also provides increased reliability and resilience.
Whenever you install panic hardware on balanced doors, a touchpad-style device must be used, and the touchpad shouldn’t extend more than halfway across the door. Code requirements by and large prohibit the installation of any other kind of lock on a door with panic hardware, except for electromagnetic locks released by a switch or sensor. The main thing is: At all times, any person who must leave has to be able to open an exit route door from the inside ~ without having to use any keys or tools, and without any specialized knowledge.
Panic bars are manufactured to prevent entry from the opposite side of a door. On the inner side, of course they allow a speedy exit in an emergency. A panic bar that locks only from the outside is permitted on an exit discharge door. Typically, rooms containing electrical equipment must have panic hardware or fire exit hardware that allows a professional technician to escape if there is an explosion or fire.
Installed on doors that open to the outside, panic bars are available in several styles. Most come equipped with alarms that keep people who are exiting from taking a stolen item along with them, or from trying to leave without paying the bill. Constructed horizontally or vertically, all panic bar door openers operate similarly, that is, the door opens as soon as the bar is pushed.
The style guidelines you must follow, and the exact number of exit doors you must have will all depend upon the height, size, and type of your building, what it’s used for, and your occupancy level.
Panic bar installations.
When an emergency happens, most people have trouble concentrating because they’ve suddenly found themselves in an extreme situation. It’s therefore crucial that you install your panic bars correctly so as to avoid any mishaps. Be sure to follow all regulations, and regularly maintain these essential doors, because properly installed panic hardware that functions smoothly will make a huge difference in life-or-death situations.
There are numerous kinds of panic hardware for you to choose from. Rim devices can be easily installed, and require very little maintenance. The panic hardware with surface vertical rods is more difficult to install, so in that case you should hire only a trustworthy professional. There is also a panic bar with a concealed vertical rod, which is more expensive and also more difficult to install. Choose the right panic bar for each door, based on your building’s parameters.
Any panic bar’s push pad needs to be at least half the width of the door. When installing a panic device, follow the template included with the bar’s packaging to mark the door, to determine where to place it. The template will indicate where to drill the holes and where to mount the hardware. As a rule, the center of the panic bar’s push pad should be at the standard height of 41 inches above the floor.
This standard could vary when it comes to schools and daycare facilities. When attaching the panic bar to the door, use only the screws included in the packaging; otherwise you’ll void the warranty. When you install the panic bar, test the push pad to make sure it’s functional.
Hire a professional.
In the long run, it’s best to hire a local professional. For instance, if your commercial property is located anywhere in Des Plaines, Illinois, the experienced mobile commercial specialists on staff at Des Plaines Locksmith will be glad to assist you. Wherever you are, hire a security professional who is exceedingly qualified to answer your questions and help you choose the right panic bars for all of your building’s evacuation doors.