Working with and understanding Life Safety & Building Codes is part of being a security professional. While understanding these codes is critically important, it is also challenging for the following reasons.
- Several different codes are used throughout North America and these codes are revised periodically.
- Code requirements vary according to occupancy types.
- Municipalities determine which codes they use and when they will adopt revisions.
- Code interpretation is subject to approval by the local authority having jurisdiction (LAHJ). Some premises are not subject LAHJs and some premises are subject to multiple LAHJs.
- Violations represent a substantial liability to your company.
- Most importantly, inappropriately deployed locking hardware endangers lives.
Building codes have a long history. It is said the first building code was in the Code of Hammurabi. The Code of Hammurabi states that if a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.
Even in modern times, being the messenger about code requirements does not make you popular. Frequently when I share observations with clients I get replies like: “That doesn’t apply to us; we’re grandfathered” or “The Fire Marshal has been through here many times and never mentioned that.”
My favorite client reply is: “The Fire Marshal just left; he threw the book at us and if you don’t come over right away and get us into compliance we’re going to get shut down. HELP!”
Locksmiths are there to support the intent of the law and we must accept that ultimately the LAHJ will prevail. When I need expert guidance, I call my attorney Ken Kirschenbaum. The following is his advice.
“Any type of security device, equipment, system or service, and I include lock work, will subject the professional installer to exposure when the security device is perceived to fail and loss occurs. Keeping track of the myriad of trade practices, manufacturer’s specification, UL and other regulatory agency requirements, building codes and of course AHJ requirements can be challenging. But violation of statutory requirements carries the most severe consequences because it may subject you to absolute liability or establish negligence per se.”
“In a perfect world I would suggest knowing the requirements and insisting on strict LAHJ compliance. When customers, for budgetary or other reasons, insist on what you believe to be substandard installation, and you don’t want to lose the business, you must document the deficiencies and have the customer sign off. The disclaimer needs to be clear, thorough and precise. It should include indemnification for all claims. It should, in fact, be drafted with the goal of forcing even the most insistent customer to permit you to install a legal compliant system so both you, and the customer, can be best protected against the loss the equipment is designed to detect or protect against.”
For more information, visit www.KirschenbaumEsq.com.
Since fire doors are essential elements of passive fire protection in buildings, the more you know about them the better you will serve and protect your clients. Fire barriers play an integral role in managing a fire by interrupting the spread of smoke, toxic gasses, and flames.
Passive fire protection is different from Active Fire Protection such as fire suppression systems (sprinklers) and fire detection systems (smoke detectors).
The Fire Door, the basic component of passive fire protection is an assembly or door system comprised of the door, the frame and the hardware.
Fire Doors serve four main purposes:
1) They are a door;
2) They are an emergency egress;
3) They are a fire and smoke barrier
4) They protect life and property.
Fire doors must be certified by recognized testing laboratories (such as UL) and must have the laboratory’s certification label.
There are situations where even if a door has a label, it may not be fulfilling its intended purpose as a fire door.
It's the responsibility of locksmiths to understand all components of steel fire doors. All hardware mounted to fire doors must be properly rated.