Exit Devices, Panic Bars and Crash Bars: What's in a Name?
The names panic bar and crash bar were coined to indicate the way people when panicked in a mass evacuation due to emergency crashed into the doors in order to exit.
In any building area or room where many people may be gathered, code requirements dictate that safe and easy egress must always be possible. The doors in these areas must always swing out in the direction of people exiting the building in case of emergency and must always be free to operate from the inside of the area, yet they may be locked to prevent access from the outside.
A crash bar (also known as a panic exit device, panic bar, or push bar) is a type of door opening mechanism which allows users to open a door by pushing a bar.
This type of panic device relies upon vertical rods to hold the doors closed when high pressure from a fire builds up behind a door. ... They can be fire rated or unrated. They can work as one-way exit devices or allow reentry using a variety of hardware and components that allow access from the pull side of the doorway.
What is panic door hardware?
An exit device – sometimes called a Panic Device or a Crash Bar – is mechanical door hardware operated from the inside of an outswing exit door through the use of a crossbar or push rail and extends at least halfway across its width.
According to life safety code, an exit device must always release the door without prior knowledge of how to operate the device. Any horizontal force on the cross bar or push rail will release the door.
Where are exit devices required?
Local building codes govern where exit devices must be used.
The rules that identify what types of buildings must use exit devices come from the International Building Code® – a model code developed by the International Code Council® and revised every three years.
The Building Code is then made law in state and local jurisdictions along with any local amendments they choose to include. The code will dictate not only when and where an exit device must be used but also whether additional locks are allowed or not on the opening.
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Example of Sonic Panic Device
Example of Vertical Rod Panic Hardware (Both top and bottom rod in place)
Depending upon the conditions of the installation, panic devices can be installed individually or work in pairs. They can be fire rated or unrated. They can work as one way exit devices or allow reentry using a variety of hardware and components that allow access from the pull side of the doorway. Some panic devices are activated electronically, have built in delay circuitry, and are capable of being integrated into sophisticated monitored alarm and access systems. The most basic device is a stand-alone piece of hardware that provides egress only.
When panic hardware is improperly installed, or has been damaged by abuse or poor maintenance, the effectiveness of its intended function cannot be assured. Panic hardware that is improperly positioned or incorrectly installed can fail as a result of mechanical impairment. Misalignment of latching components can be the cause of panic device failure. In this case, the panic hardware will not properly secure the door to protect against the smoke, fire or other adverse conditions that the cross-corridor opening was designed to protect. Alternatively, devices that were improperly positioned can also fail by not releasing to allow the unrestricted egress as required from an area, possibly trapping someone inside a dangerous zone.
When improper maintenance has occurred, components that need reworking or replacing are often bypassed, substituted or eliminated from a device. In some cases, protrusions from inappropriate replacement parts have lead to bodily harm such as severe cuts, bruising and in rare cases amputation of body parts. The above conditions have been observed multiple times where oversized bolts or screws were installed instead of the required part. Cover plates and end caps become damaged and sharp, and are often removed exposing interior components that can create injuries as well.