Balancing the requirements for security and safety is one of the most challenging positions for building managers to take. Nowhere is this balance more vital than in emergency and panic escape routes. In the event of an emergency – such as a fire – there needs to be a reliable exit route that allows a quick and easy escape.
Perhaps the first important definition is the difference between panic hardware and emergency exit hardware. Essentially, emergency exit hardware is used in buildings where the occupants are familiar with their surroundings and have been trained in emergency evacuation procedures, where the general public does not have access – offices, warehouses or the like are typical examples. In these settings you might expect to see a simple push pad type device or a lever handle operating a mortice escape lock or night latch. Panic hardware is used in buildings where the public might be – hotels, cinemas, shopping centres, sports venues for example – and will not be familiar or trained on the emergency exit routes and procedures. Panic hardware must also be use in any building with more than sixty occupants such as schools, hospitals or large office buildings. They must have a horizontal bar device to open the door that covers at least 60% of the overall door width; this is easier to see in the event of smoke or darkness for example and gives a fail safe exit strategy that is practical for anyone to use.
It goes without saying that it is absolutely critical to get the specification of this hardware spot on. The standards covering these issues, for the record are BS EN 179 (Emergency Exit Devices) and BS EN 1125 Panic Exit Devices.
So what happens when these types of doors are also used for access to the building as part of an access control system?
How does the easy and straightforward opening of emergency and panic exits square with a building’s security requirements?
We spoke to our in-house access control expert, Mike Jackson to answer this important question. “The situation is very clear, use a product that that conforms to the standard and allows mechanical egress with electronic access.” Mike continues, “A lot of products allow us to have the best of both worlds; separating the electrical function required to unlock for access while retaining the purely mechanical function required to exit. Specifying the right access device to the right application is key.”
It is these crucial details that can make or break a door hardware scheme in a building, the difference between a safe, compliant system and one that could cause a real problem in the event of an emergency. That’s why it’s vital to consult a qualified and experienced architectural ironmonger like the team at Em-B to avoid potentially disastrous mistakes. For more than 50 years we have been working with architects, interior designers and developers to deliver the very best in architectural ironmongery, access control, and door solutions.
Call us on 0113 245 9559 or email on email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
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