Panic Bar Basics

12 Jun Panic Bar Basics

Also known as panic devices or crash bars, panic bars are built and intended for emergency scenarios requiring quick and unhindered exit of a building. Commonly confused with exit bars, these devices are required in certain building classifications and must meet specific safety standards. If you own or operate a commercial facility or multi-unit building, make sure your doors and panic bars are up to code!

How it Works

Panic bars consist of a flat, horizontal bar attached to the inside of an outward-opening door. This flat bar retracts a latch mechanism when pushed, unlocking the door for fast exit. Doors using a classic crash bar require no knowledge or keys to operate and are ADA-compliant for handicapped usage.

Types and Uses

All styles operate similarly, with a pair of arms pivoting on both sides of the bar’s base plate, activating the latch retractor mechanism when pushed. Older styles may contain more elements than the newer crash bar models, and are less resilient. However, keeping all parts well-maintained and correctly placed will ensure safe and smooth operation while meeting safety inspections.

Some doors using panic bars are exit-only and meant for strictly emergency use. These doors will only open from the inside and out, lock automatically and are commonly used as fire exits.

Others open both ways and have keyed lock cylinders or handles with keyed lock cylinders on the outside. These types can be “dogged down” with a key to remain unlocked when closed. Many bars are electronic, allowing card readers and push button entry code readers to be installed for tighter security.

Codes and Regulations

The 2009 edition of the International Building Code requires all buildings classified as Education, High Hazard, Assembly and Occupancies of 50 people or more use panic bars on all fire, emergency, building and stairwell exit doors, as well as on doors leading to areas containing flammable materials and rooms holding 50 or more people. Bars must be placed 41 inches above the floor.

Doors must be able to withstand high temperatures and automatically latch when closed.

Local building codes and the National Fire Protection Association regulate the use of panic hardware.

Expert Installation

There are many different styles to choose from on the market, depending on your budget, building size, occupancy level and number of stories. Hardware types range from rim devices, surface vertical rods and concealed vertical rods, which can be challenging to install. Misalignment of latch components, improper bar positioning and applying secondary locks to broken panic bars can be dangerous and costly. To avoid these issues and for the best results, call us today at 303-617-3717 and let us help you do it right! We offer professional, experienced full commercial and residential locksmith services in the greater Denver Metro Area.

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