Access-Control Locks

Q: I have a question regarding access-control locks. I’m told that a PUSH TO EXIT button is required. My question: Is a PULL TO EXIT lever equivalent?

A: No… I would say a “PULL TO EXIT” lever is not equivalent. Section 7.2.1.6.2 of the 2012 Life Safety Code refers to access-control locks which calls for a manual release device, located on the egress side, 40 inches to 48 inches vertically above the floor, and within 60 inches of the secured opening. The manual release device must be readily accessible and clearly identified by a sign that reads “PUSH TO EXIT”. When operated, the manual release device must result in direct interruption of power to the lock – independent of the locking system electronics – and the lock must remain unlocked for not less than 30 seconds.

A “PUSH TO EXIT” manual device is what’s required… not a “PULL TO EXIT” device.

Dead-Bolt Locks on Entrance Doors

Q: A while ago, you made a posting that said a deadbolt lock on a door in the means of egress (such as an aluminum-framed glass sliding door at the entrance of the hospital) would be permitted as long as the door is not a fire-rated door and has no other releasing devices such as a lever, knob or crash-bar. I do not believe that is true, as a deadbolt lock with a thumb-turn should not be permitted in the mean of egress. Please advise…

A: After reconsideration, I believe you are correct. I looked up the commentary under 7.2.1.5.10 in the 2012 LSC Handbook, and it says this about the releasing device on the door:

“Examples of devices that might be arranged to release latches include knobs, levers, and bars. This requirement is permitted to be satisfied by the use of conventional types of hardware, whereby the door is released by turning a lever, knob, or handle or by pushing against a bar, but not by unfamiliar methods of operation, such as a blow to break glass…. The operating devices should be capable of being operated with one hand and should not require tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate.”

It is rather obvious that a standard deadbolt lock with a thumb-turn device does require a tight grasping, twisting of the wrist to operate. So, I agree with you that it would not be permitted in the arrangement as described.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention… I do apologize for the confusion and misinformation.

Stairwell Exit Locked Door

Q: Can a stairwell door that leads to the outside of a hospital be locked with a lock that requires a code to unlock it? I seem to recall that the doors could be on magnets that release upon activation of the fire alarm and that have a touch pad that releases the doors within 15 seconds.

A: No… it can’t. According to 19.2.2.2.4 of the 2012 LSC, doors in the means of egress must not be equipped with a latch or lock that requires the use of a tool or key from the egress side, unless otherwise permitted as follows:

  • Delayed egress locks (7.2.1.6.1)
  • Access-control locks (7.2.1.6.2)
  • Elevator lobby locks (7.2.1.6.3)
  • Clinical needs locks (19.2.2.2.5.1)
  • Specialized protective measure locks (19.2.2.2.5.2)

I don’t know where in the hospital this stairwell exit door is located, but let’s assume it does not qualify for clinical needs locks (psychiatric care patients), specialized protected measure locks (OB, Peds, Nursery, ICU, ER), and elevator lobby locks. That leaves delayed egress locks, which requires the entire building to be sprinklered, and access-control locks which do not lock the door in the path of egress, just in the path of ingress, neither of which allows the use of key-pads to unlock the door in the path of egress.

If you decide to use one of the approved exceptions for door locking, please make sure you read the appropriate section of the Life Safety Code and comply with everything it requires. Most surveyors are pretty well informed on the LSC requirements for door locks and they will hold you accountable.

Strange Observations – Part 28

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

Dead-bolt locks… Up until the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code, dead-bolt locks were not permitted on doors in the path of egress in healthcare occupancies.

The reason why is, it would take two actions to operate the door and the LSC does not allow that.

But the new 2012 edition of the LSC changed that a bit and permits existing dead-bolt locks to remain in service as long as the door does not serve more than 3 occupants.

Pharmacy Door Locks

Q: Is it a common practice to keep pharmacy access controlled doors so they will not unlock on a fire alarm activation? Texas Pharmacy board requirements to secure medications is the reasoning behind this setup, which I feel is wrong. Narcotics are secured within the pharmacy area in a narcotics room, so the requirement for securing narcotics and meds is compliant, but I believe the main pharmacy door should release in the event of a fire alarm activation. Our fire alarm system is designed to activate as general alarm so all electrically locked doors other than the pharmacy release. Is there a standard or exception that will allow this type of set-up? The doors can be manually released from the inside, but my concern is the obstacle created by the access control when an emergent response is required.

A: You may be confusing the old NFPA 72 requirement that all doors in the required means of egress equipped with electrical locks have to unlock on a fire alarm signal. At one time, NFPA 72 did require that, but the Life Safety Code always over-rides referenced standards when there is a conflict. In actuality, the Life Safety Code governs in a situation like this. Besides, the technical committee for NFPA 72-2010 made a change to this requirement. In section 21.9.2 of NFPA 72-2010, it says electrically locked doors in a required means of egress must unlock as prescribed by other codes, laws, and standards. This is different than what previous editions of NFPA 72 said, and now NFPA 72-2010 is clear that it differs to other codes, laws, and standards (i.e. the Life Safety Code) regarding the need to unlock a electrically locked door in the means of egress during a fire alarm. There are only five (5) exceptions to 19.2.2.2.4 of the 2012 Life Safety Code, which says doors in the path of egress must not be locked:

  1. Delayed egress locks (7.2.1.6.1) which requires the door to unlock on a fire alarm signal
  2. Access-control locks (7.2.1.6.2) which requires the door to unlock on a fire alarm signal
  3. Elevator lobby locks (7.2.1.6.3) which requires the door to unlock on a fire alarm signal
  4. Clinical needs locks (19.2.2.2.5.1) which does NOT require the door to unlock on a fire alarm signal
  5. Specialized protective measure locks (19.2.2.2.5.2) which does require the door to unlock on a fire alarm signal.

But pharmacies would not qualify for clinical needs locks (used on psychiatric units), elevator lobby locks, or specialized protective measure locks (used on OB/nursery units, ICUs and ERs). That leaves delayed egress locks or access-control locks which must unlock the door on a fire alarm signal. So, your assessment is correct in that the pharmacy door in the required means of egress cannot remain electrically locked during a fire alarm signal. If you examine the Texas Pharmacy board requirements carefully, it probably says the pharmacy must be secured against unauthorized entry… not egress.

What many people forget: The Life Safety Code governs when it comes to the means of egress and over-rides other standards and codes. Getting out of the building in the event of a fire is paramount supersedes other laws, codes or standards. Why don’t you change the locks on the pharmacy doors and eliminate the electrical locks and install standard passage locks (not deadbolt locks) that do not require more than one action to operate the door? This way, the door would not be locked in the path of egress (getting out of the pharmacy) but would remain locked against unauthorized entry during a fire alarm. This is what I see other hospital pharmacies do.

Locked Exit Doors From Psychiatric Unit

Q: I am a consultant and I have a 30% sprinklered high rise hospital with locked psychiatric units. The state authority made them unlock the stairwell doors under the 2000 LSC. The stairwell doors were locked with a key. With the 2012 LSC, can those doors have delayed egress installed for security of patients or does the entire building need to be sprinklered?  The smoke compartments into the stairs in question are sprinklered.

A: No… they cannot install delayed egress locks on any door in the building because section 7.2.1.6.1 of the 2012 LSC requires the entire building to be either fully protected with sprinklers or smoke detectors. I’ve yet to find a hospital that is fully protected with smoke detectors, so it is a safe bet it is not. Since the building is not fully protected with sprinklers, then they cannot install delayed egress locks (7.2.1.6.1), elevator lobby locks (7.2.1.6.3), or specialized protective measure locks (19.2.2.2.5.2). Their only recourse is to install clinical needs locks (19.2.2.2.5.1) or access-control locks (7.2.1.6.2, but access-control locks do not lock the door in the path of egress).

 

Did the state agency explain why they could not lock the stairwell exit doors via clinical needs locks (19.2.2.2.5.1)? Perhaps the hospital did not comply with all of the requirements found in 19.2.2.25.1, or perhaps it was a personal preference of the state inspector…

Strange Observations – Part 17

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen when consulting at hospitals…

So, here we have another exit door that is equipped with a manual latch-bolt.

I guess they wanted to keep people from using this door as an entrance, so they installed the manual latch-bolt to keep people out.

Isn’t that nice….

[Sarcasm]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Med-Room Corridor Door

Q: As I understand the Life Safety Code, doors opening from a patient floor corridor into a patient room do not have to latch. I have a room next to a patient room that we call a support room. It contains meds, a sink and an ice machine and has to be secured. It is not a rated opening, has a closure and is secured with a mag lock and keypad and has two ways to egress when in the room. Is this a OK scenario?

A: No… that scenario is not correct. The room you described must have a door that separates it from the corridor, and the door must latch. Take a look at 19.3.6.1 of the 2012 Life Safety Code that says corridors must be separated from all other areas by partitions unless otherwise permitted by one of the nine (9) exceptions. The med room is not one of the nine exceptions. Therefore, according to 19.3.6.3.5, the door must latch. You say it is equipped with a magnetic lock. Keep in mind a magnetic lock is not an acceptable substitute for a latch. If installed in accordance with section 7.2.1.6.2 (access-control locks, having a motion sensor and a ‘Push to Exit’ button on the egress side), then the magnetic lock is permitted, but the door still needs to have a latch. CMS does not permit the allowance for existing doors to not have positive latching hardware provided a force of 5-lbs. is applied to the latch edge.

Whoever told you that patient room doors do not have to latch was wrong. Patient rooms are also required to be separated from the corridor according to 19.3.6.1, and have doors that must latch, according to 19.3.6.3.5.

Strange Observations – Part 14

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen when consulting at hospitals…

Isn’t this a winner…? I should submit this picture to Lori Greene so she can share it on her website “I Dig Hardware”.

I remember asking the staff who accompanied me during the survey why they locked this Exit door, and they said they didn’t want people going through there.

This is why we have inspections in our hospitals….

Card-Swipe Reader on Access-Control Locks

Q: Regarding a recent question on access-control locks, you said the egress side of the door is required to have motion sensors and a wall-mounted “Push to Exit” button. Does it make any sense to have a card-swipe reader on the egress side of an access controlled door? Wouldn’t the motion sensor on the egress side be over-riding the card swipe reader? (Or is that the point you are trying to make?).

A: You are exactly correct… That is the point. A card swipe reader on the egress side of a magnetic-locked door is totally unnecessary, since a motion sensor and a “Push to Exit” button are required in accordance with 7.2.1.6.2 of the 2012 LSC. If you do not have the motion sensor and “Push to Exit” button then you are non-compliant. It does not make any sense to have a card-swipe reader on the egress side of a properly installed access-control lock. The card-swipe reader is indeed, pointless.