When we see a play, attend a meeting or enjoy lunch with friends, fire safety is not usually top-of-mind. In a commercial setting, one assumes that safety measures have been taken and codes are in place and enforced. The city and county of Denver – like any bustling metropolis – takes good care to enact and enforce code guidelines that ensure the wellbeing of its citizens. Commercial buildings are inspected annually to confirm rules are followed.
Denver’s commercial building code stipulates that “key locking of exit doors [on the egress side] is prohibited. A lock that requires a key to open it – not only on the outside but also on the inside – is called a double-keyed deadbolt. A double-keyed deadbolt has no handle or turn mechanism. Denver isn’t the only city to disallow this type of lock; many municipal and fire codes no longer allow them because they violate fire safety guidelines. Imagine a fire and mass escape from a commercial building, and the frantic occupants needing a key to get out. Safety hazard indeed.
Since Samuel Segal invented the first jimmy-proof lock in 1916, deadbolt locks became the new standard for security. (* Jimmy-proof means that the lock cannot be moved to the open position except by rotating the key.) In a residential setting, the deadbolt will usually have a key entry on the outside and a thumb turn/lever on the inside. Many homeowners opt for a double-keyed lock, even though fire safety experts do not recommend it. One argument is that if the door is close to a window, an intruder could break the glass and unlock the door.
The city of Denver does not agree. Even though the double-keyed deadbolt prohibition does not apply to residential dwellings, the building code does reference this application: “In the past, the City did not apply any restrictions to inside locking of residential exit doors. When the opportunity presents itself, we should point out the hazards of double-keyed bolts and recommend that they be changed to single-key bolts (key lock from outside – thumb turn release from inside).”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 374,000 U.S. homes catch fire annually, with an annual price tag of almost $8 billion. According to Global Reconstruction, 2,600 people die from house fires each year; another 12,975 are injured. Although the average number of fire deaths per year continues to decline, perhaps even more lives could be saved if more homeowners understood the dangers of double-keyed deadbolts. According to Angie’s List, some mistakenly think installing double deadbolts is a safety upgrade when in fact they are often an avoidable cause of death in house fires. Ideally, all means of egress (doors and windows) should be operable from the inside without the use of special knowledge or tools.
Alexius Locksmiths have been keeping Denver metro residents safe for more than 16 years. There’s no time like the present to review your home’s safety and security. Call us at 303-974-0215 or visit our website: denverslocksmiths.com.