Thursday, March 13, 2014

The basics of exit devices door hardware

Most people do not think much of walking through the door at the gym, doctors office, school or even the hospital. It is normal to not think too much about the intricacies of life in too much detail. But these devices that slip our minds play an important role when keeping the public safe. Exit devices, or other-wise known as panic bars, crash bars, panic devices, fire exit bolts, push bars and cross bars.

A Brief History of Exit Devices:

Exit devices were developed in the US to help solve the problem of loss of life when people would get trapped in fires without a means to get out of building fast enough. A famous fire was that of the Iroquois Theater Fire in 1903, where more than 600 people died due to not being able to unlock the doors and reach safety.

The earliest of panic bars used a cross bar, which is essentially a long metal tube that is attached to each side of the door. There was a latch bolt that would retract each side of the tube and then allow the door to swing open. This is why exit devices are sometimes referred to as "crash bars". When an emergency that requires a quick exit happens, a person can "crash" into the door and it will open right up.

Exit Devices Today:

Since the early 1900's there have been many enhancements in security and lock hardware, but the same concepts are still employed today. Some companies still use the tried and true cross bar to open door assemblies, but many have evolved to use a rail style device with uses a push-pad to unlock the door. You have undoubtedly opened many of these devices at schools, stores, and other commercial buildings all over.

The 3 most common types of exit devices are the mortise, rim, and vertical rod exit devices.

Mortise Style

This is a mortise style exit device, and when the bar is pressed, the spindle or tail shaft rotates and will retract the latch bolt, which permits the door to swing open.

Rim Style

Rim style exit devices has a surface-mounted latch that will slide over the strike when the push bar is depressed. 

Vertical Rod

You can buy and will see vertical rod exit bars in concealed or surface versions, which work almost the same way. They can be installed with a bottom and top bar, or just the top.

Which one is right for your business?

This question depends on where your business is, what your building is used for, and where the door exits. You will have to understand and comply with your state or cities fire codes in order to know for sure. Exit devices can be used with alarms that trigger when they are depressed or as main entry doors.

We hoped this article gave you a basic understanding of panic bar and exit device technology. It was written by the good folks at Phoenix Locksmith Pros, who provide commercial locksmith services in Phoenix AZ.

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