|What is panic hardware?
Defined as a life safety product, panic hardware is a door latching assembly incorporating an actuating member, usually called an actuating bar or push pad, which releases the mechanical latching or locking mechanisms upon the application of force in the direction of exit travel.
The idea behind panic hardware is to allow a way out of the building in the case of an emergency.
Where is panic hardware required?
The International Building Code (IBC 2006) requires panic exit hardware to be installed on certain types of buildings, such as:
1. Assembly occupancies with an occupant load of 50 people or more
2. Educational occupancies with an occupant load of 50 people or more
3. High hazard occupancies with any occupant load
In addition, high-hazard occupancies, as well as certain electrical and battery rooms, must include panic exit hardware. Code officials may require panic exit hardware on other types of buildings depending on local jurisdiction.
These requirements only apply to doors that lock or latch. They do not apply if a door has push/pull hardware and no lock or latch.
What are the requirements for panic devices?
What about special testing?
- Where panic hardware is required, the actuating portion of the device (touchpad or crossbar) must be at least half the width of the door leaf.
- Current codes require panic hardware to be mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor.
- A force of 15 pounds applied to the touch-pad or cross-bar must release the latch. However, some codes have recently been modified to require door hardware to operate with 5 pounds of force, and the more stringent limitation may apply to panic hardware in jurisdictions where these codes have been adopted.
- No additional locking device (deadlock, chain, padlock and hasp, etc.) may be installed on a door required to have panic hardware, and panic hardware may not be equipped with any device that prevents the release of the latch when the touch-pad or cross-bar is pressed. The exception to this is a delayed egress or controlled egress device allowed by code in certain applications.
When panic hardware is used on fire doors, it must be fire exit hardware and the door must be equipped with a label stating "Fire Door to be Equipped with Fire Exit Hardware." Fire exit hardware is labeled for panic and fire, and is not equipped with a mechanical "dogging" mechanism. An electric latch retraction device may be used to provide dogging for fire exit hardware, as long as the latch projects automatically upon actuation of the smoke detection system.
For more information about fire-rated panic hardware, see our March 2017 e-mail
In some jurisdictions, doors and hardware must meet testing requirements for hurricane and tornado protection. Consult the applicable codes and manufacturers' certifications for compliance information.
For more information about hurricane and tornado panic hardware, see our Setepmber 2018
Of course, panic hardware can always be installed for convenience, security, or durability, even if it is not required by code. The AHJ may also request panic hardware in other instances if he or she believes that a hazard exists which warrants a need for panic hardware in order to provide life safety.