Exit Device Basics

Exit devices are known by different names including the crash bar, panic bar, panic device, panic hardware, fire exit bolt, push bar and cross bar.


International Building Codes/International Fire Codes (IBC/IFC) requires a minimum of three-point latching for double-door openings without a mullion. This can be accomplished using different exit devices. For example, a common double-door application is a vertical rod exit device and a mortise exit device. The mortise lock exit device is the active leaf door and the vertical rod exit device is the inactive leaf exit device.

A mortise lock exit device can be installed with an Open Back strike plate. This configuration permits the inactive leaf of a double door opening to be opened without opening the active leaf as long as there is no astragal installed onto the active leaf.

However, if this type of installation has an astragal, a standard strike plate and door coordinator is required to make sure if both doors are opened, the vertical rod exit device equipped door will close and latch first. Then the mortise lock exit device leaf with the astragal will close and latch into the strike mounted onto the inactive door leaf.

Another option is two vertical rod exit devices that latch using top and bottom rods. They provide four point latching; satisfying codes for fire rated cross corridor doors. Cross corridor doors are pairs of doors that extend across the entire corridor.

For a pair of doors, Von Duprin manufactures three-point latching exit devices that are designed for electric latch retraction. The electrified latching mechanism is wired into a power door operator that when the activation signal is sent, the exit device retracts the top and bottom latch and a deadbolt in the mortised lock, permitting the doors to swing open.

For hospitals, hotels, concert halls, etc., cross corridor doors provide large clear openings for higher traffic applications and wide clear openings in order to transport patients in a bed or gurney. They also can provide a separation area and are installed in hallways at fire walls. Most cross corridor doors are single egress, both swing in the same direction.

Cross corridor doors can be double egress as each door swings in the opposite direction. This configuration is not used on the exterior of a building, but typically in a firewall application. They can be useful for traffic control as each leaf swings in the direction of travel.

Another specialized application for an exit device is to delay egress for specific applications for either 15 or 30 seconds. They can be for infant areas in a hospital, museums or special applications. The Alarm Lock Sirenlock™ 715 has a 15 second delayed egress with instant 95db Dual Piezo alarm. In an actual emergency or fire, the 715 instantly sounds the alarm meeting NFPA 1012 Life Safety Code. Depending upon the codes, delayed egress requirements vary. Research your building codes and realize the LAHJ has the final word.

Alarmed exit devices sound an alarm when the device is operated. For example, the Detex ECL-230X Series Exit Control Locks are code compliant, one, two or three point panic devices with a 100 decibel alarm for secondary exits. These heavy duty exit devices are available with hinge side bolts that engage the door into the frame for additional protection.

The Sargent and Greenleaf Arm•A•Dor™ Panic Exit Device Series is designed to resist basic operational abuse and forced entry while maintaining minimal resistance for egress. The Arm•A•Dor meets life safety codes.

For specialized applications, single motion egress rim devices can be configured to a variety of access control devices including a high security combination lock. Lock One® LKM7000 Series high security rim devices from Lockmasters meet Department of Defense and National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) specifications. These exit devices can be installed on inswing and outswing single or double hung doors.

Electric latch retraction has been available for a number of years being used on openings equipped with power operators. Until recently, electric latch retraction was powered by a solenoid. Solenoids require a surge of power to operate. Once the operation has been completed, less power is needed to maintain the operation. As a result, solenoid electric latch retraction is usually very noisy, an unwanted distraction. Motor driven electric latch retraction is quickly replacing solenoids as they require less power and are much quieter.

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