Delayed Egress: The Safe Solution for Security, Loss Prevention & Patient Safety

Jan. 8, 2010
The locksmith must determine the hierarchy of LAHJs for a particular situation, and to take the necessary steps to assure compliance.

Delayed egress systems are door locking systems which prevent a door from opening immediately when egress is attempted in a non-emergency situation.

One of the golden rules is of course that a lock is never supposed to impede egress, but there are specific situations where it is allowed with special approval from the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ), as long as the application is in accordance with the relevant building code.

Delayed egress has many important uses. For healthcare facilities, it can alert staff to a patient attempting to leave the premises or someone attempting to steal drugs.

In commercial applications, doors may be equipped with delayed egress to discourage shoplifting. At airports, doors leading to hazardous and flight line areas will be equipped with delayed egress.

In schools and childcare, delayed egress systems will deter abductions and delinquency.

In security environments where it is desired that a credential be used for passage in both directions, a delayed egress lock will allow locking of the door, encouraging the use of a credential, without potentially trapping individuals if there is a legitimate reason for them to exit.

It is imperative that the installer confirm the acceptability of a delayed egress system with the LAHJ prior to installation. In some geographical locations, and in some types of occupancies, more than one authority may have jurisdiction, for example a Fire Marshal as well as a Building Inspector. It is the responsibility of the installer to determine the hierarchy of LAHJs for a particular situation, and to take the necessary steps to assure compliance.

Delayed Egress systems are typically configured as:

An integrated Delayed Egress electromagnetic lock in which all logic and locking components are built into a single device

A Component System where locking, logic, annunciation and control devices are separate

A Delayed Egress Exit Device

Depending on the design, the delayed egress may be triggered by door movement or an external triggering device.

Building Codes vary with respect to requirements for Delayed Egress locking arrangements. However they all have a similar set of core safety requirements:

1. The delayed egress lock must be approved or listed and shall be permitted for installation on doors serving occupancy levels as specified per prevailing code (refer to your prevailing code and consult your LAHJ for complete details).

2. The doors must unlock upon activation of an automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system.

3. The door(s) must unlock upon loss of power controlling the delayed egress locking device.

4. The delayed egress locks shall be unlocked by a signal from the fire command center.

Important Note: Some cities may also require a remotely located manual reset station attended at all times by trained personnel. 5. Applying no more than 15 lbs of pressure for a maximum of 1 second (1 second nuisance delay) will start an irreversible process to unlock the door in 15 seconds. The LAHJ may permit up to 30 seconds.

6. An alarm must sound at the opening upon initiation of the release process.

7. A sign must be applied to the door stating, “PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS. DOOR CAN BE OPENED IN 15 SECONDS.”. Letters must be one inch high x 1/8” stroke. The sign shall indicate 30 seconds where applicable.

8. Emergency lighting is required as prescribed per code.

9. The lock must be manually reset at the door.

10. A building occupant may not be required to pass through more than one delayed egress equipped door.

There are differences in the Building Codes as to what types of occupancy a delayed egress system may be installed.

The United State Fire Administration advises: The International Building Code® prohibits delayed egress locks in Group A, E, and H occupancies, while NFPA® 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code allows them in all occupancies except detention and correctional facilities.

Other relevant codes are: NFPA® 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code Chapter 11; International Fire Code® Chapter 10; NFPA® 1, Uniform Fire Code Chapter 14; International Building Code® Chapter 10 and NFPA® 101, Life Safety Code.

According to the NFPA Delayed-Egress Locking Systems, approved, listed, delayed egress locking systems shall be permitted to be installed on door assemblies serving low and ordinary hazard contents in buildings protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic fire detection system in accordance with Section 9.6 or an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 9.7, and where permitted in Chapters 11 through 43, provided that the following criteria are met:

1. The provisions of for access-controlled egress door assemblies shall not apply to door assemblies with delayed-egress locking systems.

2. The door leaves shall unlock upon actuation of one of the following:

(a) Approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 9.7

(b) Not more than one heat detector of an approved, supervised automatic fire detection system in accordance with Section 9.6

(c) Not more than two smoke detectors of an approved, supervised automatic fire detection system in accordance with Section 9.6

3. The door leaves shall unlock upon loss of power controlling the lock or locking mechanism.

4. An irreversible process shall release the lock within 15 seconds, or 30 seconds where approved by the authority having jurisdiction, upon application of a force to the release device required in under the following conditions:

(a) The force shall not be required to exceed 15lbf (67N).

(b) The force shall not be required to be continuously applied for more than 3 seconds.

(c) The initiation of the release process shall activate an audible signal in the vicinity of the door opening.

(d) Once the lock has been released by the application of force to the releasing device, relocking shall be by manual means only.


Securitron Magnalock Corp. offers a variety of Delayed Egress Solutions. The Locksmith Ledger interviewed Mark McBroom, Product Manager for Delayed Egress products. for more information, visit Following are the Ledger’s questions and McBroom’s answers.

Can you provide a history of delayed egress?

“Delayed Egress Locks” offered an early answer to dementia facility patient containment. Some integrators and manufacturers saw other uses for delayed egress. Department stores and restaurants used them on designated, but unused, exits to control walk-outs and pilfering. Some companies used delayed egress to give the security guard 15 or 30 seconds to respond to those who did not use their access cards for egress, since it was illegal to lock people inside a building.

Code provisions for delayed egress included either a 15- or 30-second delay time and the system had to unlock when the fire system was in alarm. The new code was called “Delayed Egress Locks” and was placed under “Special Locking Arrangements.”

Is the demand for delayed egress growing, and if so, why?

Yes, as the economy has worsened the demand for loss prevention at the retail level has grown along with the elder generation needing life safety products within the health care industry.

How many types of delayed egress systems does Securitron offer and what are the basic differences?

Securitron offers the following four types of delayed egress:

1. Modular delayed egress using any standard magnetic lock, touch sense/panic bar with switch, XDT delay egress timer and reset device.

2. Self contained delayed egress which can be initiated by either door movement (iMXDa) or external panic device with switch (iEXDa).

3. Modular door movement delayed egress using any standard magnetic lock, SB-MXD initiate device, XDT delay egress timer and reset device.

4. Modular door movement delayed egress using any model 32, 62 or 82 magnetic lock, MXD-32, MXD-62 or MXD-82 housing/initiate device, XDT delay egress timer and reset device.

For what applications are Securitron’s delayed egress systems suited?

Nursing homes, elder care facilities, dementia wards, retail loss prevention, child care centers, birthing/maternity wards.

Why are there so many different code requirements for delayed egress?

Basically there are three main code bodies (NFPA, BOCA and IBC) governing different areas, each agency dictates what the nuisance period is (0, 1, 2 or 3 seconds), how long the delay could be (15 or 30 seconds) and what type of reset mode is needed (Manual key switch or automatically after 30 second once the door is opened and re-closes via a door position switch

Do they overlap to the extent that one setting fits all?


Does the LAHJ have the power to dictate how the delayed egress will be configured?

Yes they have the final say.

Is there a version which is suitable for any jurisdiction?

All Securitron delayed egress systems are field adjustable to meet all jurisdictions including Chicago (1/8” movement to initiate).

What are some of the issues associated with the specification of a delayed egress system?

Location, building occupant type, bypasses needed (entry, exit or both)

Can an iMXDa generate an output which can be used to trigger the unlocking of other DE or continually locked doors?

Because of the adjustable initiate gap selection, the iMXDa was initially a single door device (you would use two iMXDa units on double doors, each being self sufficient), after feedback from the field we have come up with a simple configuration to make two iMXDa units operate as one for double door requirements, this is an upcoming change and will be a new part number. The iEXDa has always been able to operate two units as one.