Panic Hardware - Getting to Know the Basics

As a door and hardware expert witness and forensic consultant, I have been retained on many cases where installed panic hardware has been the source and cause of severe bodily injuries. As a hands-on contractor and installer, I have personally installed and serviced 1000s of panic devices, and I have observed, evaluated and resolved problems that arise with your bits of specialty hardware.

The three most frequent conditions that I've witnessed in panic hardware door related injuries are (1) Improper installation (2) Poor maintenance (3) Keeping of inappropriate secondary locks.

Panic hardware is a door component that has been designed to allow fast and unencumbered exit from a doorway. Panic hardware is typically found on hallway doors where fire requirements compartmentalize and separate areas to assist in the smoke, fire or heat control of a commercial building, hotel, or hospital. They are also commonly found on the exit doors on most high traffic or high density buildings such as for example movie theatres, large arena complexes, or restaurants. Panic hardware is acceptable almost anyplace where fast evacuation from a building could be the difference between life and death of the occupants (Life Safety).

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The most important aspect of panic devices is that no special knowledge is needed to use them. You just push a rod, a club or other activator, the latch mechanism is retracted and you have the ability to push the entranceway open. These kinds of devices function differently than a typical door lock, in they are designed to allow exit without the use of a key or any rotary motion of any kind. They're usually installed in the trail of travel toward the exit of a building or controlled corridor. They are supposed to be equally suitable for the utilization of handicapped (ADA Compliant) or able bodied individuals.

There has been changes made to panic devices through the years to boost the ease of use for ADA compliance and improve the entire safety of the general public. Early panic devices were originally designed utilizing a horizontal pipe or flat bar attached to the door. A couple of arms that pivot on base plates at each side of the pipe or bar enable the panic device to work and activate a latch retractor mechanism when pushed. While these devices function when properly maintained, there have been numerous injury claims associated with the malfunction of this kind of door panic hardware. Poorly maintained and incorrectly replaced hardware of the style has been the explanation for severe injuries in many cases when I have been retained as a home hardware expert witness.

These early devices can still be viewed in many facilities around the world, and many come in good working order and maintained properly. If most of the components of this panic device are properly adjusted, well lubricated and securely attached with the doorway, the unit will still pass the inspection requirements of all life safety checks.

A more contemporary style panic device is commonly known as a "Crash-Bar ".This bit of hardware is generally made up of a set integral component that after pushed against, retracts a lock mechanism. Similar to the older style device employing the pipe or bar in function, the newer style crash bar is simpler to push, and is generally more resistant to obstructive issues, and functions with fewer moving elements on the outside of the device.

There are many options for the surface side (pull side) of a home designed with a panic device. In a single instance, the panic device can be used being an exit only. There will typically be no reentry through this doorway. Some exit only doors will also have a keyed lock cylinder on the exterior side of the door that will retract the latch mechanism when the main element is turned. This enables an authorized user to open the door from the exterior side of the opening. An additional choice for the outside trim is the installation of a moveable handle or a handle with a keyed lock cylinder. Reentry is achievable with these two components, either by moving the lever or knob, or employing a key when needed. In some more sophisticated installations, a card key reader or push button entry code reader could be properly used to retract the latching mechanism. Many higher security choices are available, as the use dictates. Atlanta divorce attorneys case for exterior access, the function of all of the above reentry options are basically the same; They are all used to retract the latching mechanism of the panic device in some way, allowing entry from the pull side of the door.

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