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The Exit Locks You Need in Your Commercial Building: Panic vs. Fire

by | Sep 29, 2018 | Commercial Locksmith, exit locks | 0 comments

The first rule of any emergency situation is to be prepared. Be prepared with a game plan, an organized response, and an exit strategy. Harry’s Locksmith, your Vancouver locksmith, is here to help you with the latter. We want you to have the correct exit locks in place in case of an emergency.

While we certainly want your commercial building to be secure from unauthorized personnel, we also want you to be able to get out of the building quickly and efficiently when necessary. That’s why we’re going to tell you exactly what exit locks you’ll need in case of a panic or fire emergency.

One of the top concerns we hear from our clients involves the degree of security in their building. We know you work hard and want to protect your business and investments. It makes sense that you would want to ensure your building is impenetrable.

But while your building’s security is of the utmost importance, so too is your safety. That’s why Harry’s Locksmith has a number of exit locks that will allow you to move through and out of the building as needed.

The first type of safety lock you’ll want to secure on your commercial building is a panic lock. This type of lock can be disabled quickly in the event of an emergency. History has shown us that panic bars are essential in a variety of life and death situations. In fact, panic locks, or bars, came about as a result of the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago, which claimed the lives of 600 people who were unable to exit through the theatre’s locked doors.

Panic hardware typically consists of a metal bar placed horizontally across the door. While the door is securely locked from the outside, the metal bar (also known as a push bar or crash bar) can be pushed, thus disabling the latch and allowing for a quick exit from a commercial building. This can help in a variety of emergencies from an active shooter situation to a bomb threat and everything in between.

Panic locks are essential because in heightened situations in which you may panic, you don’t want to be fumbling with locks or otherwise losing precious time. Panic locks ensure that you’re able to exit the building both quickly and efficiently. Not only are they required by certain commercial building codes, they are essential in keeping your tenants, employees, and other building occupants safe.

Likewise, fire exit locks also allow you to vacate the building quickly in emergency situations. As with panic hardware, fire hardware became standard for commercial buildings following tragic historical events, such as a 1908 fire at the Lake View School in Collinwood, Ohio. As the blog entry notes, “Large numbers of panicking children could not open the latches and ended up crushing each other in an effort to escape.” Following those events, fire safety regulations were altered across the country and the first model of a panic bar was introduced.

Now, many commercial building codes require the use of such locks. So what’s the difference between a fire-exit lock and a panic lock? Firstly, fire-exit locks are used on fire-rated doors. A fire-rated door prevents the spread of fire and is typically composed of heavier parts than a panic door.

Another key difference between fire hardware and panic hardware is that a fire-exit lock must re-latch upon closing. This requirement helps the door withstand the pressures of the fire and limit its spread to other areas of the building.

How do you know which lock you’ll need for your commercial building? As mentioned, some of that will be determined by international building code. But part of it will also be determined by the purpose of your particular building and its use.

For instance, there are many variations on panic hardware and fire-exit hardware that can be installed based on your individual building needs. An infant-care unit at a hospital, for instance, may opt to have a delayed egress locking system installed on its doors. Delayed egress locking systems allow security personnel more time to thoroughly vet those attempting to enter and leave the area.

Such systems also disable the delayed egress locking mechanism once the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system is activated, thereby allowing occupants to quickly vacate the building in fire emergencies.

On the other hand, you may want to have sensor releases on your doors that will detect when someone is approaching. For example, a building serving the physically disabled may want to ensure occupants are able to quickly exit the building when necessary. Sensors remove the need to physically push the panic bar by detecting when individuals are approaching the door from within the building, allowing for an easy means of egress.

There are many factors to consider when selecting panic and fire-exit hardware for your building. One item of importance is that while panic locks and fire-exit locks can be life-saving measures, they will only work if properly installed. You don’t want to take any chances when it comes to your safety and security. That’s why it’s important to contact your trusted Vancouver locksmith to ensure proper installation of such locks.

Harry’s, your Vancouver locksmith, can also answer any questions you have about which lock to place where. After all, locks aren’t one size fits all.

We want to make sure that you are choosing the ones most appropriate for the safety and security of your occupants. That’s why we’ll customize your exit locks to best suit you and your commercial building. And remember, enhanced safety doesn’t have to mean compromised security. We’ll make sure you have the best of both worlds, so that you and your occupants feel safe, as well as secure.