As the world turns faster and faster, the needs of safety, convenience and accountability are ever increasing. Companies are turning to electronic security to control who and when a person can gain access. They are starting to want to know the who and which -- the day and time the person gained entry and also who wanted to gain entry when they were not authorized.
This evolution from mechanical and manual to electronic and power operated has been evolving for many years. More companies that cater to the general public are using power operators, eliminating the necessity for the customer to manually open a door. Access control can include providing hands-free access. As an example, supermarkets were one of the first businesses that I remember that eliminated the need to manually open a door, probably saving money while lessening the costs of door repairs and glass replacement due to errant shopping carts, and the lawsuits that may have followed.
Decades ago the markets had rubber mats and protective railings for power operators that opened and closed the swing entrance and exit doors. Today, door control has evolved to power-operated sliding doors providing both entry and exit, eliminating the railings and rubber mats.
Businesses are driven by the demand for higher profits, while trying to keep costs under control. The increasing demand for improved forms of access control is resulting in the increased demand for competitively priced electronically controlled locks.
We as locksmiths have the opportunity to provide electrified access control for specific applications by electrifying existing lock hardware. This can be a win-win situation for the facility by providing the wanted/necessary access control, while saving the company money.
However, there are a number of points that must be considered.
The first and foremost is to always discuss the installation, prior to purchasing hardware or beginning the work, with the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ). If the job is of a significant size, you may consider discussing the job with the lock hardware retrofitter, lock hardware manufacturer and/or calling a consultant prior to a meeting with a LAHJ.
Prior to discussion with the LAHJ, I would strongly recommend knowing the laws, codes, and/or regulations for the area in which the job is located. Different areas can have different regulations. Also check the LAHJ web site to see if they offer information regarding fire-rated openings and associated hardware.
When informally meeting with a LAHJ, bring a drawing of the floor plan, drawing(s) of the anticipated modifications to the door/frame with cut sheets and installation instructions from the products you are considering installing. Each entry should have separate drawings and cut sheets. An additional reason for doing this is to find out if the modifications to the lock or device can make it inappropriate for the application.
Remember: Instructions for a Listed product should cover the anticipated installation.
If the anticipated installation is appropriate, the LAHJ may give you input such as, “If I saw this on the door, I probably would not have a problem with it.” The LAHJ may indicate that the job would not be in violation. You are there for an informal meeting and should not expect to receive approval that would require a formal meeting/inspection after the installation.
The LAHJ has the ultimate authority. During an inspection, the LAHJ can determine the door does not meet code. This means the LAHJ can pull the occupancy permit, forcing the building to be vacated until the situation has been remedied.
Getting to the actual job: Are any of the entries fire rated? (You know, those doors and jambs that have painted over Listing labels.) Very few modifications can be made to a fire-rated opening at the job site. The fire-rated opening includes the door and the jamb.