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Why it's Important to have Panic Bars at your Commercial Property

If you own a public commercial building of any kind, then you may be aware that “panic hardware” is required to provide proper emergency egress and ingress. A panic bar is the push bar that must be installed on each exit door to allow people to make a quick exit from the building. Then there must be an uninterrupted and unobstructed exit path to a place of safety. These doors are typically needed in restaurants, bars, and malls, and other public places such as schools. It is of utmost importance that you comply with the law when it comes to protecting your building’s occupants. You won’t pass inspection if you’re not up to code. With the installation of these vital devices, you’ll guard the life and safety of every occupant - employee, customer, and visitor alike.

Panic hardware consists of a latching device, with a touchpad or crossbar spanning across at least half the width of the door, which releases the latch if it’s pushed. Panic hardware may also be called an “exit device” or a “crash bar”; for fire doors, it’s called “fire exit hardware.” This specialized hardware is used where it’s required by code to make it possible for large groups of people to get out fast. It also provides increased resilience and reliability.

The International Building Code (IBC), the International Fire Code (IFC), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Code, are America’s most common building and fire safety codes. You’ll need to determine which code, and which edition of that particular code, applies to your building. Local codes in your area may compel you to adhere to additional requirements. Make sure you’re fully compliant.

The requirements affect doors that either lock or latch. For instance, panic hardware isn’t required for a free-swinging door with only a push plate and pull handle. Panic hardware is required by code for only certain occupancy types. In general, an “assembly occupancy” is a building or area where large groups gather, such as a gym or a theater. 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. 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.

Whenever you install panic hardware on balanced doors, a touchpad-style device has to be used, and the touchpad should not extend more than halfway across the door. Code requirements normally prohibit the installation of any other kind of lock on a door with panic hardware, except for electromagnetic locks released by a sensor or by a switch. The bottom line is: Any person who must leave has to be able to open an exit route door from the inside at all times - without having to use any keys or tools, and without possessing any sort of specialized knowledge.

The way panic bars are made, they prevent entry from the opposite side of a door. On the inner side, of course they ensure a speedy exit in the event of an emergency. A panic bar that locks only from the outside is permitted on exit discharge doors. Typically, rooms containing electrical equipment must have panic hardware or fire exit hardware that will allow a professional technician to escape in the event of a fire or explosion.

Installed on doors that open to the outside, panic bars are available in several styles. Most come equipped with alarms that prevent people who are exiting from leaving with stolen items or avoiding paying a tab. Constructed horizontally or vertically, all panic bar door openers operate in a similar fashion; the door opens as soon as the bar is pushed. The exact number of exit doors and the style guidelines you must follow will depend upon the size, height, and type of your building, what it’s used for, and your occupancy level.

If your commercial property is located in Tyler, Texas, you’ll want to hire a security professional who is qualified to answer your questions and help you choose the correct panic bars for all your building’s evacuation doors. The experienced commercial experts at Locksmith Tyler will be glad to assist you.

You’ll find that there are various types 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 you should hire only a trustworthy professional. There is also a panic bar with a concealed vertical rod, which is more expensive and also harder to install. How to choose? You’ll need to pick the right panic bar for each door, based on your building’s parameters as stated above.

The push pad on any panic bar 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 so as to determine where to place it. The template will show you where to drill the holes and where to mount the hardware. Usually, the center of the panic bar’s push pad should be at the standard height of 41” above the floor. This could vary for schools and daycare facilities. When attaching the panic bar to the door, use only the screws included in the packaging, so you won’t void the door’s warranty. While installing the panic bar, test the push pad to make sure it’s functional.

Since most people have trouble concentrating when they’re in an extreme situation, it’s crucial that you install your panic bars correctly to avoid mishaps. It’s really best to hire a local professional. 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.