Testing of Delayed Egress Locks

Q.  We have delayed egress locks in our hospital and during a recent inspection a fire marshal said we had to test the locks on an annual basis. Is this true? If so, what are we supposed to be testing?

A.  Although the Life Safety Code occupancy chapters for healthcare (chapters 18 and 19) permits delayed egress locks in hospitals, section explains how they need to be installed. One of the aspects of operation for the delayed egress locks is the requirement to be interfaced with the building fire alarm system or the automatic sprinkler system. The doors are required to unlock upon water-flow, or activation of a heat detector or no more than two smoke detectors. (Please note: This does not necessarily include the activation of a manual pull station.) While the LSC does not reference a specific requirement for testing the delayed egress locks, NFPA 72-1999 National Fire Alarm Code does have a written requirement for testing interface equipment. Table 7-2.2, paragraph 19 says interface equipment connections shall be tested by operating or simulating the equipment being supervised. Signals that are required to be transmitted must be verified at the control panel. Delayed egress locks are not necessarily supervised, but they do have an interface device (control relay) that unlocks the doors on a signal from the fire alarm control panel. NFPA 72 recommends the testing frequency of interface equipment to be conducted annually.

One could draw the conclusion that your delayed egress locks should be tested annually, to ensure that the power controlling the locks actually drops out upon water-flow, or activation of a heat detector, or no more than two smoke detectors.