Special knowledge is another concern regarding the egress of all types of electric hardware. It isn’t always evident how to exit a door equipped with electric locks, especially in the case of delayed-action exit devices.
Check with the AHJ for proper signage. It will vary by location and jurisdiction.
Sometimes the AHJ will require large buttons that will shunt the power to a lock for a specified amount of time.
Remember that the “single-action” out rule applies to all electric lock installations. If an electric lock is being added to a door and is working in conjunction with a mechanical lockset, the release of all locks on the door must take place with a “single action.”
WORKING WITH THE AHJ
It is important to be in compliance with the AHJ. Details relating to the installation can be upgraded by the AHJ and the locksmith is responsible for knowing those details.
In Figure 05, and electrified exit device has been added to a storefront (aluminum and glass) door. Although it wasn’t required by uniform code, the AHJ required concealed power transfer normally used when applying electrified doors to fire assemblies.
This wasn’t a fire assembly, but the AHJ noted that the alternative means to transfer power to the exit device called for an offset electrified pivot. He cited that in his jurisdiction the electrified pivots often failed, and he also wanted to see thicker wire used to carry the voltage. Had the locksmith installed these and it was later caught, it would be the locksmith that would be paying for the correction.
On a later occasion, because of the close working relationship of the locksmith, the AHJ approved the use of a prototype cabinet lock (see Figure 06) for use in a hospital.
FIRE AND BUILDING CODES
Of course and electric lock installation is required to comply with all applicable fire and building codes.
Electric locks conform to both general regulations for locks and specific regulations for electric locks. This means that an existing use for a mechanical lock may need to be reviewed if an electric lock is retrofitted.
Electric locks enable electronic control. Fire and building codes are concerned with the enhancement that electronic control brings. Any function that inhibits egress (for example; delayed-action systems) are made to be regulated by the building emergency control center. When auxiliary electric locks are synchronized with the primary mechanical locks, these systems are also tied to the emergency control center to guarantee immediate egress when signaled.
There are ingress concerns. First Responders need immediate access into all areas of buildings. There is always great concern and attention towards those doors equipped with electric locks without a means to access those doors (mechanical override) with a key. Electric locks that provide the convenience of keyless access should still offer mechanical override by a master key that is available to first responders.
It isn’t just the fire department; many local law enforcement agencies are adopting new policies that concern immediate access to all parts of a building. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has adopted an “Active Shooter” policy. Recent shootings reflect a trend where a crazed shooter runs wild through a school or shopping mall. Where in the past law enforcement's policy was to contain the situation and move carefully, an “Active Shooter” policy involves bringing overwhelming force into the area to limit the carnage.
What this means is that areas of a building that will be converted to electric locks should always be immediately accessible by mechanical key override.
When added to a fire assembly, electric locks need to maintain the integrity of the door and frame. Remember that the integrity of fire assemblies require that all parts will be operable to certain temperatures and then will deliberately fail at higher temperatures so that the doors will remain attached to the jambs. Every component added to a fire assembly can potentially degrade the integrity.
For example, something as harmless as a sign stating the hours the door can be electronically accessed, can create a problem if mounted to the interior skin of a fire door. During a fire, the fastener could melt and then drop the sign onto the lever where the door then comes open and everything burns. The sign isn’t required to be fire-rated, but the example shows how easy it is to degrade integrity.
The locksmith must consider the impact of switches, contacts, door transfers, indicator lights, and other components that might be added to the fire assembly.
Doors must be self-closing. Before talking hardware and pricing, the locksmith should inspect doors that need to be converted.
If the doors are in poor working condition, they must be fixed prior to installing new hardware. If the locksmith goes forward with the installation without repairing doors, problems will mount, and when called out to address the problems, it will be difficult to discriminate warranty issues.
Most electric lock installations rely on doors that are positively self-closing. Anemic door closers need to be replaced. This is especially true with storefront doors.
Center-hung storefront doors usually are closed using a concealed door closer mounting inside the top rail. The forte of these types of closers is being able to operate in both directions. When asked to mount electric locks on these types of doors, the locksmith must perform the following tasks. The closer needs to be deactivated or removed; a pivot conversion kit or new top rail needs to be installed; door stop needs to be installed so the door can only swing outward; and then a heavy-duty closer installed.
Storefront doors that only open outward but are still self-closing via a “J”-arm attached to the concealed closer will need the “J”-arm removed; and then a heavy-duty closer installed.
Hollow metal or wooden doors with weak closers will have their closers removed and heavy-duty closers installed.