Best Practices for Thresholds, Weatherstripping, and Fire Safety by Dan White

This article appears in the June issue of the DHI Security + Safety Magazine and is reprinted here with their permission.

An array of products installed in commercial buildings affect life safety, many of which require a UL listing. While not the largest or most glamorous materials, thresholds, weatherstripping, and gasketing products serve as barriers to fire and smoke inhalation, and while small in size, they are some of the biggest contributors to preserving life.

What is the UL Label?
Underwriters Laboratories, LLC (UL) has been around for more than 125 years and is known across multiple industries as a leader in global safety. Their simple mission, “Working for a safer world since 1894,” is at the core of everything they do. According to their website, “We conscientiously advance safety science through careful research and investigation, applying our efforts to prevent or reduce loss of life and property and to promote safe living and working environments for all people.”[1]

UL certifications can be found on hundreds of building material products, including door assemblies. “Our fire safety team evaluates a wide range of products for fire resistance and performance, including door frames, locks, closers, hinges, and other door accessories,” notes the UL website.[2]

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Classroom Barricade Devices

Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous news articles from across the country referencing school security initiatives and several discussed the use of classroom barricade devices. As a door hardware manufacturer, this is concerning because these types of devices often do not meet life safety or fire codes requiring free egress, fire protection, or ADA accessibility.

In March of this year, the Bremen Public School District, located in Indiana, developed a new school safety initiative plan. Several levels of security are being added, including upgrading their card access system. Unfortunately, in the article that reported these upgrades, it stated “the safety plan also includes the addition of a classroom barricade device. The devices are magnetic and slide onto the back piece of the door to barricade the door and keep intruders from entering a classroom if they break the lock. The devices are already being distributed to classrooms.”¹

In 2018, the State of Indiana released a School Safety Recommendations document which specifically included verbiage on classroom door hardware.

Under Recommendation #11
“Replace classroom door hardware to ensure fire and building code compliance. The door must lock from the inside and not restrict exiting or egress from the classroom or building. This could reduce the number of non-compliant tactics being used (such as magnets) to allow easier re-entry access by students during class time.”²

Another recent news article described how a former lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began to discuss procedures to be followed in the event of an active shooter situation. However, before the lecturer began speaking, he noticed that the classroom doors did not have locks on the inside of the doors.

Concerned, the lecturer did reach out to the University’s Facilities Service advising them of this safety concern and suggestions on how to fix it, including the use of deadbolts. The article went on to share that the concerns were forward to the UNL’s Police Department’s Assistant Chief of Police, who in turn, did reply that deadbolts were not a viable solution as “fire code prohibits the use of deadbolts in classroom spaces.”³ Listening to officials who understand building and life safety codes is vital in having code-compliant hardware.

The 2018 edition of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) notes in Chapter 15 for Existing Education Occupancies:

15.2.2.4 Classroom Door Locking to Prevent Unwanted Entry
Classroom doors shall be permitted to be locked to prevent unwanted entry provided that the locking means is approved and all the following conditions are met:

  1. The locking means shall be capable of being engaged without opening the door.
  2. The unlocking and unlatching from the classroom side of the door can be accomplished without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  3. The releasing mechanism for unlocking and unlatching shall be located at a height not less than 34 in. *865 mm) and not exceeding 48 in. (1220 mm) above the finished floor.
  4. Locks, if remotely engaged, shall be unlockable from the classroom side of the door without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or effort.
  5. The door shall be capable of being unlocked and opened from outside the room with the necessary key or other credentials.
  6. The locking means shall not modify the door closer, panic hardware, or fire exit hardware.
  7. Modifications to the fire door assemblies, including door hardware, shall be in accordance with NFPA 80.
  8. The emergency action plan, required by 15.7.1, shall address the use of the locking and unlocking means from within and outside the room.
  9. Staff shall be drilled in the engagement and release of the locking means, from within and outside the room, as part of the emergency egress drills required by 15.7.2.

The Bremen School District disregarded NFPA Life Safety Code and their own state’s recommendations. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s assistant police chief was correct in noting deadbolts would not meet code, however the article didn’t share any further information whether solutions were provided for locking the interior side of the classroom doors.

In Massachusetts, a lawsuit was recently filed by the Lenox Public School District (near Boston) against the town of Lenox, the Massachusetts Building Code Appeals Board, and the local building inspector for requiring the school to remove the barricades devices they purchased as they do not meet Life Safety or Fire codes.

With the advent of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, information and misinformation are difficult to categorize or research. Many educators and the public may not understand the challenges classroom barricade devices present.

Selecting proper security for emergency egress, while meeting building codes can be challenging. It is important to remember that building codes are in place for a reason. The NFPA gathered statistics on school fires with 10 or more deaths. The last major school fire happened in 1958 in Chicago, IL, where ninety students and three nuns lost their lives during a fire at the Our Lady of the Angels School. We all can agree that keeping our children safe is our number one priority.

After each major incident, we learn how to better improve buildings to keep people safer. Following the Columbine tragedy that happened 20 years ago on April 20th, a new lock function was introduced called the intruder classroom function, that allows mechanical control of the outside lever via a key from either the interior and exterior side of the door. A standard classroom function lock is controlled by a key in the outside cylinder, which locks or unlocks the outside lever. The intruder classroom function allows a person to lock the door with a key from inside the room rather than stepping out into the hallway. Today, there are many more code-compliant options available.

The Door Security + Safety Foundation has gathered many resources for how to combine safety and security on their Lock Don’t Block website. These include articles, white papers, and other documents from organizations such as Safe and Sound Schools, Pass – Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, The School Superintendent Association, and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, among others.

The advancement of technology has introduced several electronic access control solutions. Online locks no longer need to be hardwired making installation easier and less expensive. Obviously, we feel our HS4 electronic hardware solution is the best, but our hope is to educate school districts, parents, and facility maintenance personnel that there is cost-effective code-compliant hardware available. We do not feel barricade devices are an acceptable solution for school security, due to possible unintended consequences.  We can help you design a safe school security system that meets building and life safety codes.

For more information on our HS4 Hager powered by Salto Electronic Access Control Solutions please contact your local sales representative or email [email protected] .

¹ Indiana District Develops School Safety Initiative Plan 
² 2018 Indiana School Safety Recommendations
³ The Gray Area of Classroom Locks

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Environmental Product Declarations – EPDs

Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources began before the 1970s but it was the oil prices increase during that period that spurred the movement. The green building field formalized in the late 1980s and 1990s when several organizations developed committees, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) who formed the Committee on the Environment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) green building “is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.”

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, better known as LEED, was introduced in 2000 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) offering a new certification program for building design, construction, operations, and maintenance. There are several levels of LEED and when LEED v4 was released, it added new credits for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and material ingredients. Similar to nutritional labels that can be found on food items, only instead of the impact of the food on your body’s wellbeing, it provides the environmental impact of the building material or product.

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Team Member Profile – Sheryl Simon, CSI, CDT – Manager, Architectural Specification Consultants

Sheryl Simon has been with Hager Companies for 13 years and was recently promoted to Manager, Architectural Specifications Consultants. We sat down with Sheryl to ask her a few questions.

Sheryl Simon at one of the many CSI STL events she volunteers for. Sheryl currently is 2nd VP for the chapter. Photo credit: George Everding

Childhood AmbitionI was always interested in design. (I’m not sure if it’s an ambition or an obsession.) Even as a young child I was always re-arranging the furniture. My parents never knew what to expect when they came home. 

First JobWorking at a very busy ice cream stand. The lines seemed to never end but it was fun interacting with all the customers. 

What led you to the hardware industry: I married into it and very quickly became a hardware geek. 

Proudest professional momentWhen I passed my CDT. It is a very difficult exam and required a lot of studying. 

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Why is the Bottom Rod Missing?

Have you ever come across a pair of doors that have just a top vertical rod exit device and not top and bottom, and wondered why? Often an architect or specification writer will specify “less bottom rod (LBR)” on pairs of doors, especially in healthcare facilities.

This photo was taken in an assisted living facility here in St. Louis. This opening is a pair of fire rated corridor doors which means they must positively latch in case of a fire to control flames and smoke from traveling through the facility. Without latching hardware on the exit device itself, positive latching is accomplished with the surface mounted top vertical rod. As you can see from the picture, the door is being held open with a magnetic hold open tied into the fire alarm. If the fire alarm is activated the hold open will release the door. The door closer will swing the door shut and the top vertical rod will latch the door.

This leads us to the question of why the architect or specification writer specified LBR. While the top and bottom vertical rods help secure the door, the bottom vertical rod is secured to a floor strike mounted in the floor. That floor strike can become a tripping hazard to people that use mobility devices, such as canes, walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs. ADA regulation 404.2.10, Door and Gate Surfaces, states: “Swing door and gate surfaces within 10 inches (255mm) of the finish floor or ground measured vertically shall have a smooth surface on the push side extending the full width of the door or gate.” The regulation goes on to specify how thick protection plates and installation screws can be.

This installation is a textbook example of the intersection of fire code and ADA regulations. The goal is to keep people safe both from fire and tripping. When architects and door hardware professionals work together, the result can be a safe, attractive and code compliant facility.

For assistance in writing door hardware specifications please contact Brian Clarke at [email protected]. For information regarding our products please contact our customer service team at 800-255-3590 or your local sales representative.

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Thankfulness

As we head into Thanksgiving later this week, we want to share our gratitude for the Hager family, our colleagues and leadership teams, sales and architectural representatives, our customers, architects, end-users, vendors, and suppliers, all of which are an important part of our family.

Charles Hager expanded the business based on relationships built on transparency. We continue that transparency 169 years later by providing quality products while striving to be a collaborating participant with our channel partners. We work hard to bring opportunities that turn into long-term business to our customers. We write true non-proprietary specifications while focusing on being correct, clear, concise, and complete for our architects.  Our team of experts is available at the beginning of the project to assist in the coordination of the door hardware and confirm each door opening meets building codes.

Next year we celebrate 170 years in business. To honor this tremendous achievement, we’re holding a contest through our desktop calendar to collect your favorite Hager story. Whether it’s an interaction you had with an employee, an organizational milestone, or just a fun walk down memory lane. One winner will be selected each month at random. All entries will be displayed at www/hagerco.com/contest for everyone to enjoy.

We are thankful to have such strong relationships throughout the channel and wish each one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

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Just 7 Weeks Before the End … of 2018

It’s almost the end of the year so we wanted to take this opportunity to sweep up a few housekeeping items – learning credits and marketing funds.

Learning Credits

Are you, or anyone you know, scrambling to finish up learning credits before the end of the year?  We offer several one-hour continuing education AIA/CES courses. Check out our brochure here.

Access Control 101 | 1.0 LU/HSW
This course defines the differences between access control “head-end” systems and traditional (metal cut keys) key replacement systems. We will review the different types of credentials (metal keys, card keys, fobs, etc) as well as battery operated products vs. fully hard-wired electrified locking systems. Lastly, we will teach you the do’s and don’ts for code compliance.

ADA: Meeting Accessibility Standards for Openings | 1.0 LU/HSW
This course features an overview of compliance with ADA, physical disabilities, and ANSI A117.1 Chapter 404 for doors, doorways, and gates. We will also discuss approach dimensions compliances.

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Safe Schools Week October 21-27, 2018

Every week is safe schools week in our book, but in1984 the National School Safety Center (NSSC) designated a special week to recognize the successes of quintessential school, district, state, and national programs.

Per the NSSC website, the goal of this campaign is to “motivate key education and law enforcement policymakers, as well as students, parents and community residents, to vigorously advocate school safety. School safety includes keeping campuses free from crime and violence, improving discipline, and increasing student attendance.”

Doors, with the correct hardware, play an essential role in providing safety and security to students, teachers, and personnel. Have you ever thought about how many doors you walk through when you enter a school? Was there an open gate when you entered the campus? Was the building’s perimeter door unlocked, so you were able to walk right in? How many doors did you pass before you reached the office?  Recently constructed schools are designed to direct the flow of visitors to help control access to the campus. Often, older schools were built to be more accessible, allowing opportunities for non-authorized people to enter freely, without having visitors check-in.

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SCIP and CONSTRUCT – 2018

Next week, several members of the Hager team will be heading to Long Beach, California for the annual Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice meeting, better known as SCIP, and the CONSTRUCT Education and Exhibits show.

We always have a great time at both events and it gives us a chance to chat with specification writers to learn how we can better help their processes and solve any pain points.

CONSTRUCT 2014 – Baltimore

Our complete line of door hardware falls under one brand, the Hager brand, and we take pride in writing true non-proprietary specifications.  We focus on being correct, clear, concise and complete to make sure all parties in the channel understand how each door opening is expected to function before it’s installed.

SCIP Members Touring Hager HQ – CONSTRUCT 2015 – St. Louis

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Proposition 65

California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65 or “Prop 65”, was voted into effect by California’s voters in 1986. The goal of this California law is to protect the state’s drinking water sources from toxic substances known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm by prohibiting businesses from knowingly discharging these substances into drinking water sources or onto land from where the substances can pass into drinking water sources. The law also prohibits businesses from knowingly exposing individuals to these substances without providing a warning.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program. OEHHA, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), determines whether chemicals meet the scientific and legal requirements for placement on the Proposition 65 list, and administers regulations that govern warnings and other aspects of Prop 65.

Chemicals are added or removed annually from the official list of toxic substances based on California’s analysis of current scientific information. The California Proposition 65 List currently contains more than 950 substances. The latest list can be downloaded at http://oehha.ca.gov/prop65/prop65_list/newlist.html

Hager Companies is committed to providing safe and compliant products for our customers. Our goal is to continually work with our vendors, supply chain partners, and resellers to source responsibly and to comply with regulatory and reporting requirements, including providing product warnings to our customers as required by laws like Proposition 65.

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