Panic doors must be able to be opened from the inside without a key, hardware must meet certain standards within compliance of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and also comply with other national, state, and local fire codes to pass inspections. You should also consider making sure the hardware you choose to install meets or exceeds recommended fire ratings by the researchers at Underwriter Laboratories to ensure that they will function optimally during actual fire situations.
Panic bars are required on facilities that are intended for assembly, educational, or high-hazard activities. The IBC calls for panic hardware on buildings with an occupancy load of 50 people or more; the National Fire Protection Agency requires it for buildings able to hold 100 people or more. High-hazard facilities containing electrical equipment with certain specifications are bound by the National Electric Code to provide panic hardware on any building regardless of occupancy numbers.
Generally, residential, commercial and retail buildings don’t demand this special type of hardware unless they meet or exceed these assembly occupancy load standards. This means that most offices, apartment buildings, and stores do not need to install panic hardware.
Watch this video to learn more about the code standards for panic hardware.
What Types of Doors Use Panic Bars?
Panic hardware can be used with single doors or pairs of doors. They are used in combination with free egress, delayed egress, and controlled egress or controlled access doors. Panic hardware can only be installed on fire doors where panic bars are required if the hardware is also certified for safety in fire conditions.
Where Are Panic Bars Required?
According to the building safety and fire codes, these are the types of facilities that would require panic bars and hardware to be installed to facilitate fast and easy egress:
All facilities for assembly, education, childcare, and high-hazard applications with an occupant load of 50 people.
All buildings with an occupancy of 100 people or more.
For service areas containing high-powered electrical equipment.
With a few exceptions, when a door is part of a means of egress from one of these types of buildings AND the area exceeds the set occupant load, the door can only have a lock or latch if it is panic hardware.
Do exit doors need panic bars?
Yes, panic bars are required by building and fire codes for emergency exits. Most commercial buildings need at least two exit doors equipped with panic hardware within the designated exit route to comply with safety regulations.
What Types of Locks Can be Utilized with Panic Hardware?
Panic Hardware can be used with both fail-safe and fail-secure locks. Crossbars and touchpad-style hardware can work with a wide range of lock types, including automatic locks, electrified locks, and traditional mortise locks. With electromagnetic locks, instead of operating mechanically as it would with other types of locks, the panic device is connected to a switch or sensor which releases the latch or lock.
Delayed egress and controlled egress locks work a bit differently. When someone presses on a panic bar with a delayed egress lock, an alarm immediately sounds. Then, the lock releases automatically after a short delay, usually 15 seconds. These types of locks are often used to prevent theft while maintaining life safety standards. Similarly, when someone presses on a panic bar with a controlled egress lock, an alarm immediately sounds. Then, the door must be unlocked by personnel. These types of locks are often used in a healthcare setting, to safeguard sensitive patients who require assistance to exit.