Q: We have “clinic” type areas within suites. Some of these doors that lead to the main corridor for egress, have regular “turn handle” type handles. Not panic hardware. What is the mindset of where it is required to have panic hardware on a door, and when turn handles are permitted? Is there a “rule of thumb” on when a door has to have panic hardware for egress?
A: Horizontal egress hardware on a door (commonly referred to as crash bars and often misnamed panic hardware) are not required in a healthcare occupancy. Crash bars are required on doors in the path of egress from assembly occupancies. So, if a hospital has a dining area or an auditorium; these are assembly occupancies areas, and horizontal crash bars would be required even if the entire area is classified as healthcare occupancy. Section 188.8.131.52.2 of the 2012 Life Safety Code requires where there is a mixed occupancy (meaning the different occupancies are not separated with a 2-hour fire rated barrier), then the more restrictive requirements of the occupancies involved must be followed. Therefore, since an auditorium and a dining area (50 or more people) exist inside a hospital, then the requirements of assembly occupancy must be followed. Horizontal crash bars would then be required.
But there is no requirement for horizontal crash bar hardware on egress doors from a hospital suite as you described.