Delayed Egress Applications For Hospitals

Oct. 2, 2013
Delayed egress locking mechanisms can provide an additional level of safety for newborn and infants in the nursery and for and patients in psychiatric wards or Alzheimer’s units.

A delayed egress locking system, as defined in the International Building Code (IBC), is a non-mandatory locking system that is permitted on egress doors. The system operates in conjunction with existing locks and latches as are required by code. The delayed egress lock provides an approved means of restraining/releasing an egress door that is otherwise required to remain operable from the egress side.

When someone attempts to operate an exit device or push open a door equipped with a delayed egress locking mechanism, an irreversible alarm sounds and the timed countdown begins. The lock remains locked, preventing the door from opening, for a predetermined 15 or 30 seconds.

Note: For a 30-second delay, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ) must provide the authorization in writing.

The alarm continues to sound during the countdown. After the delay time has elapsed, the door can be opened by activating the release mechanism. The notification continues to sound until a knowing act resets the mechanism.

In an emergency, a signal from the fire/life safety system will release the lock for uninhibited egress.

For hospitals and healthcare facilities, delayed egress locking mechanisms can provide an additional level of safety for newborn and infants, and  for patients in psychiatric wards or Alzheimer’s units. Delayed egress locks can help to control the movements of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities use delayed egress lock mechanisms to prevent individuals from leaving sensitive areas through stairwell and secondary corridor doors. When unauthorized individuals attempt to leave, they activate an alarm and are delayed from leaving either 15 or 30 seconds before the door can be opened.

The disadvantage is that delayed egress-equipped doors require a "knowing act" to turn off the alarm and reset the system once someone has attempted egress. A "knowing act" can be defined as a keypad, key switch or card presented to a card reader. A "knowing act" is not pushing a button. The mechanism must be located within reasonably close proximity.

Code Compliance

At a minimum, hospitals and healthcare facilities must be Building Code compliant within their state. Delayed egress lock mechanisms are designed to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety 2012 version, International Fire Code (IFC), International Building Codes 2012 version (IBC) and state building codes. For example, California hospitals are OSHPOD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) jurisdiction compliant.

Contact your local and state government or local authority having jurisdiction to determine which codes and what versions have been adopted by the governing agencies.

Delayed egress locks can have a 15-second or 15- and 30-second delayed egress timer with internal or external audible alarms that can be set to be triggered internally or by external contacts. Delayed egress locking mechanisms are compatible with most access control systems.

Only install a delayed egress lock mechanism that has been tested and certified to meet or exceed UL294 Special Locking Arrangements. Most are ANSI/BHMA 156.23 Grade 1 and UL10C. If the opening is labeled, be sure to install a UL10C Fire Rated product.

Signage requirements for delayed egress mechanisms using an exit device are the sign must be in both English and Braille. The sign must be within 12 inches of the exit device bar.

Two sections of the 2012 IBC reference delayed egress locks: 1008.1.9.6 Special locking arrangements in Group I-2 and 1008.1.9.7 Delayed egress locks. The Group I-2 occupancy includes buildings and structures used for medical, surgical, psychiatric, nursing or custodial care on a 24-hour basis of more than five persons who are not capable of self-preservation. This group shall include, but not be limited to hospitals, nursing homes, mental hospitals and detoxification facilities.

1008.1.9.6 "Approved special egress locks shall be permitted in a Group I-2 occupancy where the clinical needs of persons receiving care require such locking. Special egress locks shall be permitted in such occupancies where the building is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or an approved automatic smoke or heat detection system installed in accordance with Section 907, provided that the doors are installed and operate in accordance with Items 1 through 7.

1. The doors unlock upon actuation of the automatic sprinkler system or automatic fire detection system.

2. The doors unlock upon loss of power controlling the lock or lock mechanism.

3. The door locks shall have the capability of being unlocked by a signal from the fire command center, a nursing station or other approved location.

4. A building occupant shall not be required to pass through more than one door equipped with a special egress lock before entering an exit.

5. The procedures for the operation(s) of the unlocking system shall be described and approved as part of the emergency planning and preparedness required by Chapter 4 of the International Fire Code.

6. All clinical staff shall have the keys, codes or other means necessary to operate the locking devices.

7. Emergency lighting shall be provided at the door."

For our purposes, most of 2012 IBC 1008.1.9.7 is contained in 1008.1.9.6. However, items 4 through 6 contain additional information:

"4. The initiation of an irreversible process which will release the latch in not more than 15 seconds when a force of not more than 15 pounds (67 N) is applied for 1 second to the release device. Initiation of the irreversible process shall activate an audible signal in the vicinity of the door. Once the door lock has been released by the application of force to the releasing device, relocking shall be by manual means only.

Exception: Where approved, a delay of not more than 30 seconds is permitted.

5. A sign shall be provided on the door located above and within 12 inches (305 mm) of the release device reading: PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS. DOOR CAN BE OPENED IN 15 [30] SECONDS.

6. Emergency lighting shall be provided at the door."

Locking Mechanisms

Delayed egress locking mechanisms are available in two configurations as delayed egress electromagnetic locks and delayed egress exit devices. Delayed egress electromagnetic locks are available self-contained and as multiple components including the lock, logic controller, etc. An exit device is normally used with delayed egress electromagnetic locks to control egress.

Delayed egress electromagnetic lock manufacturers include BEA, Detex, DORMA, Dynalock, ROFU, RCI, Schlage,  Seco-Larm, SDC and Securitron. Consult the device manufacturer for specific product information. Product and company listings can be found in our Online Buyers Guide at

Self-contained delayed egress exit devices contain the electronics within the rail assembly of the device. Delayed egress exit devices are normally available as rim, mortise and vertical rod models.

Delayed egress exit device manufacturers include Alarm Lock, Corbin Russwin, Dorma, Falcon, Precision Hardware, Sargent, SDC and Von Duprin. Consult the device manufacturer for specific product information.

Ingress can require operational exterior trim and/or electronic access control. Operating the exterior trim may activate the delayed egress alarm. An electronic access control input will release the locking mechanism without activating the alarm if the proper devices are installed. For example, an opening equipped with a delayed egress rim exit device can have a surface-mounted electric strike or a magnetic lock.

Important: All delayed egress lock installations must be prior approved in writing by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ).

Hospital Case Study

For this article, we will discuss the Security Door Controls (SDC) 1511S Exit Check® Delayed Egress Electromagnetic Lock and the Sargent 57-80 Series delayed action exit device installed onto exit doors to prevent unauthorized egress. This delayed egress system had been previously installed on the ward door.

A delayed egress opening in a behavioral medical facility is equipped with a patented SDC 1511S Exit Check® Delayed Egress Electromagnetic Lock, an electrified hinge, an Emhart/Russwin Door Closer and a Sargent 3828 Rim Exit Device used to mechanically latch the door. Activation of the 1511S Delayed Egress Electromagnetic Lock can occur by placing pressure against the door for longer than the set nuisance delay.

The 1511S built-in door monitor sensor has self-adjusting ability to help prevent false triggering.

The 1511S Exit Check is designed to delay egress through exit doors for 15 or 30 seconds. Methods to monitor the door include the 1511S Exit Check’s built-in door movement sensor, a request-to-exit (REX switch) mechanism connected to an exit device and a latch monitoring strike.

For the door movement sensor and the latch monitoring mechanism, a nuisance delay sounds for a programmed one or two seconds if the force upon the door is not sufficient to activate the system. Once the 1511S Exit Check is irreversibly activated, voice and alarm tone or alarm tone only notifies of the attempted unauthorized egress. The voice provides warning or a safety message, countdown and time of door release. The annunciation continues after the countdown. The Exit Check display indicates if the door was opened after the delay time has elapsed.

This SDC delayed egress electromagnetic lock’s 1650-pound holding force requires 830mA @ 12VDC or 450mA @ 24VDC at + 10 percent. As an option, SDC offers a Energy Saver, 1200-pound holding force delayed egress electromagnetic lock  requiring 400mA @ 12VDC or 275mA @ 24VDC. The alarm output is a Single Pole Double Throw (SPDT) dry relay, 1 Amp @30VDC.

The 1511S electromagnetic locks have a built in prop alarm that sounds if the door remains open after the selected bypass time has elapsed. Options include magnetic bond sensor output, door status sensor output and anti-tamper sensor output.

The appropriate signage in both English and Braille was installed onto the egress side of the door.


For this portion of the article, I was invited to the installation of a delayed egress exit device, an electric strike, a key switch and an electrified hinge for a stairwell opening. During the expansion of the newborn/infant section of a healthcare facility, this upper floor stairwell door was converted to a Sargent 57-80 Series delayed action exit device to limit any unauthorized departures using the access stairway.

The 57-80 is based on the Sargent 8800 Series rim exit device designed for doors from 32" up to 48" wide. These single point rim latching devices are ANSI A156.3 Grade 1 UL Fire and Panic Listed. The device is equipped with a ¾" stainless steel throw latch.

To power the delayed action function of the 57-80, .25 Amps @ 24VDC of filtered and regulated power is required. A mortise lock cylinder controls the electronics within rail assembly with green and red LEDs indicating status. An 80dB horn provides the alarm when the delay is activated. Installing the delayed egress mechanism requires up to eight wires.

The HES 9500 Series Genesis™ is a three hour fire rated electric strike that accommodates up to a 3/4" throw Pullman latch rim exit device. The non-handed surface-mount exit device has a 3/4" thick stainless steel housing requiring no cutting of the frame. The Genesis power draw for a 12VDC continuous duty application is .45 Amps @ 12VDC or .25 Amps @ 24VDC. The HES 9500 Series electric strike complies with NFPA 80-07 guidelines for retrofit into fire-rated frames.

The Sargent 57-80 installs into the same mounting holes as the exit device and can be used with the same exterior trim. Wire runs were provided to the key switch and wire transfer butt hinge by the facility electricians. Make sure there is sufficient wire to not only make connections, but to install the "Insert Mechanism" onto the rail.

There are three electrical connectors for the Sargent Delayed Egress Exit Device. The smaller block connector provides power to the device. Connect the other two connectors first, then the power connector. When initially powered, the alarm sounds for about one second, which feels a lot longer knowing personnel, patients and relations will hear the alarm sound. The green LED illuminates, indicating the system is operational. The system was tested using the locksmith's badge and the card reader on both the egress and access side of the opening.

Suggestion: Bring along a smartphone or iPad to obtain installation instructions from the manufacturer’s web site while at the jobsite.

The 57-80 Series delayed egress exit device’s audible and visual indicators show door lock status. Depressing the push rail for two seconds or longer initiates an irreversible alarm. The alarm sounds during the adjustable time delay of 0-30 seconds during an unauthorized egress.

After the time delay, the alarm continues to sound while the mechanism in the exit device releases and the door can be opened. The delayed egress exit device is disarmed with the key. When wired into the building's fire alarm system, a relay in the circuitry voids the delayed action cycle, allowing for immediate egress in an emergency.

The Sargent 57-80 Series has a micro-switch along the base of the Insert Mechanism with an access hole in the bottom of the rail. The micro-switch adjusts the triggering point for the delay process. The push bar is designed to move about one-half inch before being stopped by the magnetic connection stopping the bar from being able to retract the Pullman latch. If the delayed egress process does not start within the half inch of travel, it will not start at all. The micro-switch is adjusted to activate the alarm within the half-inch of travel.

In order to provide authorized access and egress without activating the alarm, an HES 9500 Series Electric Strike was installed. Presenting an authorized work identification card to the reader on each side of the doorway activates the electric strike to electronically release the Pullman latch from the keeper without activating the alarm.

The latch bolt monitoring circuitry in the exit device has been disabled to permit authorized access and egress. The Pullman latch is pushed into the center case as the door closes and released once within the keeper. If latch bolt monitor were not disabled, the bar would go into alarm each time the door closes.

As an added layer of security, the newborn/infant section has Hugs Infant Protection beginning in the delivery room. The Hugs tag is attached to each infant’s ankle and is monitored.

The delayed egress technology is not the only technology used today to prevent abduction and to protect persons who can be a danger to others and themselves.