Doorways serve multiple purposes to those who live, work, and visit buildings. Besides a convenient conduit through which to enter and leave, they offer security and play an important role in protecting occupants in the event of a fire emergency.
Unfortunately, doors and door hardware that are compliant with fire code regulations upon installation don’t always stay that way. And that can have devastating results!
So, how do perfectly good compliant exits go bad?
- When doors deteriorate over time—when they begin to sag or otherwise don’t fit or function as before—people worry about security and look for DIY ways to secure them. The problem is most people aren’t educated in what’s required from a fire safety perspective. Or they quite simply avoid buying fire code compliant doors and door hardware to cut corners.
- Often, people unknowingly and unintentionally make it difficult to find or access emergency exits. They carelessly put furnishings and objects in front of doors when they don’t know where else to put them. And sometimes, in the interest of aesthetics, they use murals or other décor to disguise emergency exits and make them blend in with their surroundings.
Both scenarios jeopardize occupants’ well-beings and could have disastrous consequences.
Building codes constantly evolve to better protect people in the event of fire emergencies. Unfortunately, those codes won’t serve their purpose to their full potential unless building owners, property managers, construction professionals, locksmiths, and door hardware professionals educate those who occupy facilities. The people using buildings need awareness of what actions put them at risk.
Examples of fire code violations that DORMA and other professionals have encountered in the field include:
- High chairs piled in front of a restaurant’s emergency fire exit.
- A church’s fire exit hidden by a stage curtain.
- Tables and chairs lined up in front of a fire exit at a motorcycle shop.
- An elementary school dance where teachers placed tables in front of the doorways to prevent kids from roaming the halls.
- Emergency exits purposely locked with dead bolts.
- Door latches taped to remain open. (It’s very important that doors latch in case of a fire.)
Generally, these violations happen in ignorance rather than blatant disregard of the rules. But whether intentional or through obliviousness, the same devastating results could develop in event of a fire.
Ensuring 2016 will shape up to be a safe year will require that all of us more vigilantly do our part in educating customers. So, refresh yourself on the standards established by BHMA, NFPA, and ICC and look for opportunities to spread awareness about practices that violate the codes created to preserve the well-being of all.