Door Alarms and Building Codes

Dec. 3, 2010
A healthcare facility was concerned about meeting code requirements but also needed to prevent patients from wandering off in the event of an emergency

I’ve had my head into door alarms lately, ever since the State Fire Marshal threw the (Code) Book at one of my favorite accounts.

Door alarms can serve several functions.

A door alarm can generate a local alarm at the door. The local alarm can be audible or visual or both.

The alarm can send a signal back to a central monitoring location or panel. In some cases, the client will want to be able to unlock the door from a central location as well.
The alarm can monitor the door’s position and locked status. If the door has a maglock but the maglock does not have a bond-sense (which confirms that the armature is bonding to the electromagnetic lock, and therefore the door is secure), a separate DPS sensor is required.
Frequently the client will want to know if the door has been propped open.

For this application, we had to approach the project from several angles to meet the client’s requirements and satisfy code requirements.

The state fire code said that for a facility of this type, instead of the maglocks that were already installed at every opening, delayed egress would be required. This would involve replacing 20 maglocks with delayed egress. Although the existing maglocks were tied into the premises fire alarm, and all the stairwells had keypad control from the hall to the stairwell, and motion and REX buttons for off the stairwell onto a hall, this did not meet the Fire Marshals’ approval.

This is a three-story brick construction healthcare facility fully sprinklered with fire alarms. There are panic bars on every stairwell door. The third and second floors have three stairwell doors. The ground floor has three stairwell doors and several exits. One exit services the center stairwell. Each of the other stairwells leads to a hallway and directly across from these two stairwells are emergency exits into a fenced courtyard.
My client expressed concern about a situation where all the doors would unlock, enabling patients to exit the building and wander off because the night staff would not be able to cover all the exits.
The first component of our proposal was for delayed egress and centralized monitoring from the nurse’s stations on each floor. We were quoting Securitron iMXDa Delayed Egress Maglocks which we could remotely unlock and also monitor for locked status as well as door position.
Securitron has two different door monitoring control panels - The ZAP which monitors only and the LCAP which enables monitoring and individual control of each door.

Management decided to contest the Fire Marshal’s requirement, and suggest as an alternate that we provide a button at each nurse’s station which, when pressed, will immediately unlock the stairwell doors on the respective floor, as well as the ground floor exits into the courtyard. They say that this will prevent an unnecessary and unmanageable situation described above with all doors unlocked and patients escaping and getting injured.

Of course the fire alarm will always release all doors in an emergency.

To upgrade our monitoring, we incorporate the existing maglocks. Since we are not concerned with individual door control, but only the locked/unlocked status on a per door basis, we will need to provide interfaces at each door, DPS (Door Position Sensors) at each door, and will need to monitor the door position and that power is being applied to each maglock.

At each nurse’s station, we will suggest using another Securitron product, ZLP which will provide an easy to see visual status of each opening.

For the emergency button we are recommending the Securitron PB5 with the PB2-LK LED illuminator.

Our nerve center will be built around the Altronix AL3000ULx power supply with integral MOM-5 power limited voltage distribution board.

Features of the Securitron Zone Light Panels (ZLPs) include:

  • 24 VDC or 12 VDC field selectable
  • Stainless steel plates
  • ISO 9001 certified
  • Limited lifetime warranty covering malfunction and abuse.
  • 1/2 inch LEDs to indicate door or alarm status; one RED and one GREEN light emitting diode.

The Securitron Lock Control Panel (LCP) is designed to operate any DC electric lock or strike that operates on 12 or 24VDC (Fail Safe or Fail Secure).Other electric locks can be accommodated by adding relays.

Each LCP Series panel is constructed of control zones supplied in multiples of four. A single multi-colored monitoring LED per zone displays four possible conditions of the lock:
Green shows that the zone is secure, and this may be driven from a door switch, lock status switch or the power status of the lock.

“Off” shows that the lock has been “legally” released from either the panel control switch or from a remote switch at the door. In this condition, the toggle switch itself illuminates yellow.
Red is the alarm condition showing that a lock which should be secure is not reporting secure. This condition is latching and is reset from a momentary switch once the zone has been re-secured. A Sonalert accompanies the red “violation” condition.

Orange shows that the zone has been re-secured and is ready for alarm reset. After reset, the indicator turns green again.

Securitron Zone Annunciation Panels (ZAP) are designed to monitor any normally closed (dry) contact or Door Position Switch (DPS) with a simple visual/audio indication. One illuminated red LED represents each contact (zone).

When the zone is violated, the red LED extinguishes and the built-in Piezo sounder is activated.
NOTE: This function is non-latching. As soon as the contact resets, the red LED will re-illuminate and the sounder will go silent.

Each ZAP panel is constructed to monitor four to 24 zones in four-zone increments.
Each panel is ideally suited to monitor multiple exit doors (using Securitron’s XDTs or iMXDs) or other doors/gates/devices beyond the visual or audible range of staff.

Operation is simple; there are no buttons or switches to push. These are typically located at a nurse’s station or central security station where an immediate indication of a zone violation needs to be annunciated.

Other Securitron products used on this job included EEB Emergency Exit Buttons, PB5 pushbuttons and the Integrated Movement Exit Delay with Advanced Technology (iMXDa).
iMXDa helps prevent peril to persons/patients and property loss/theft for businesses. Applications include dementia wards, hospitals, dormitories, airports, child care facilities and retail or warehouse environments.

Installation requires no alteration or replacement of existing fire-rated or Non-fire-rated latching hardware. False triggering is eliminated by up to 1” of authorized door movement.
For more information about Securitron products, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

The power supply used on this project was the ALTRONIX AL300ULM Multi-output access control power supply/chargers specifically designed for use with access control systems and accessories.

These units convert a 115VAC / 60Hz input into five (5) individually protected Class 2 Rated power limited 12VDC or 24VDC outputs. Each output will route power to a variety of access control hardware devices including MagLocks, Electric Strikes, Magnetic Door Holders, etc.
These outputs will operate in both Fail-Safe and Fail-Secure modes.

Controlled trigger input is achieved through normally open (N.O.) or normally closed (N.C.) supervised input or the polarity reversal from an FACP (Fire Alarm Control Panel). A form “C” dry output relay enables

HVAC Shutdown, Elevator Recall or may be used to trigger auxiliary devices.

Altronix AL300ULM features include:

  • 12VDC or 24VDC selectable output.
  • 2.5 amp supply current.
  • Five individual Class 2 Rated power limited outputs rated @ 2.5 amp.
  • Current limit is 12VDC or 24VDC @ 2 amp per output.
  • Input 115VAC / 60Hz, 1.45 amp.
  • Input fuse rated @ 3.5 amp/250V.
  • Fire Alarm Panel or Access Control System trigger inputs. N.O. or N.C. supervised trigger input and polarity reversal trigger input.
  • Output relay energizes when unit is triggered (form “C” contact rated 1 amp @ 28VDC).
  • Power fail supervision relay (form “C” contact rated 1 amp @ 28VDC).
  • Filtered and electronically regulated output.
  • Short circuit and thermal overload protection.
  • Built-in charger for sealed lead acid or gel type batteries.
  • Maximum charge current .7 amp.
  • Automatic switch over to stand-by battery when AC fails (zero voltage drop).
  • AC fail supervision (form “C” contacts).
  • Low battery supervision (form “C” contacts).
  • Battery presence supervision (form “C” contacts).
  • AC input and DC output LED indicators (power supply board).
  • Red LEDs indicate condition of power outputs (multi-output board).
  • Power & input trigger LEDs (multi-output board).

For more information about Altronix products, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit