Problem Solver: Kick Up the Hardware

Jan. 2, 2014
For those areas that need higher security, ask your distributor, dealer or manufacturer for products created specifically to meet the rigors of such locations.

Some areas need to be secured and monitored to discourage unauthorized visits more than others. At the same time, their doorways still must be designed to lead everyone to safety in a clear and easy fashion. Standard door hardware does not solve the problem. These areas need different locks, exit devices and door closers. Let’s look at a couple different examples of the many products that will provide increasing security and safety.

For instance, in behavior health facilities, the solution needs to prevent self-induced injuries through ligature strangulation. With 1,500 annual suicides in hospitals, in which doors and door hardware are the most common anchor points, hospitals want knobs, levers, thumbscrews and cylinder rings that will prevent patients from using them for such purposes.

For doors needing increased security, consider multi-point locks, which secure the door at three locations – the traditional lock on the side plus along the top and bottom of the door. In areas suffering from high vandalism, a common problem is vandals cause damage to the internal locks components caused by excessive force from hitting or standing on the lever to gain access. If the lock simply gives away, that threat is cancelled.

Oftentimes, when exit devices need to provide greater security, facility managers can select an exit device available in a rim configuration featuring a two-piece latch that is 90 degrees to the strike pad which delivers more than 2,000 pounds of static load resistance.  

If the facility needs to temporarily prevent individuals from exiting a facility while still meeting fire/ life safety needs, a delayed egress solution may have options to fit the unique needs of a specific facility. Such a device can even meet the NFPA 101 “Special Locking Arrangement” and have an optional cylinder dogging (latch remains retracted so that the door swings freely) for increased security.

Although exit devices are commonly dogged open during the normal operating hours of a facility, they need to be secured after-hours. With a dogging indicator light, which can be seen beyond 50 feet from the exit device, this visual indication helps reduce the time needed to conduct inspections.

What about closers? In areas prone to higher abuse, facility managers can minimize or prevent tampering and vandalism with forged steel double-lever arms and heavy gauged metal security covers. In the unfortunate case of fire, building openings have different requirements. Some doors need to open to work with smoke evacuation systems while others may need to close immediately to prevent the spread of fire.

In hazardous areas, pneumatic operators can run off of a control box with electronics that are located remotely, keeping electricity away from an at-risk environment. Remember, in a lockdown scenario, doors must be closed before they can be locked. In lockdowns, automatic closers and door release magnets can network into existing systems so, when an emergency occurs, doors will automatically close to ensure lockdown.

A major goal in a high-traffic area is to keep people moving. Holding open or opening doors as people exit slows down egress. A hold-open sensor recognizes if someone is still in a doorway and keeps the door open. Such a closer is ideal for hospitals, schools, movie theaters, auditoriums, assisted living facilities or emergency doors where a large number of people need to exit quickly.

One size does not fit all. Besides the few examples mentioned, there are many more.

Ron Taylor is  Allegion’s OEM integration engineer, electronic locks