Tag Archives: Life safety

Understanding New Accessibility Requirements for Doors

All images courtesy Allegion

All images courtesy Allegion

by Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI

The 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design went into effect in March 2012, but there are several requirements that continue to surprise architects and specifiers.

This article examines four particular changes related to doors on an accessible route:

  • door hardware must now operate with 22.2 N (5 lb) of force—a limit most panic hardware does not meet;
  • any low-energy automatic operators actuated by a motion sensor must meet the safety requirements for a full-powered automatic operator—possibly including safety mats and guide rails;
  • bottom rails of manual swinging doors must be at least 254 mm (10 in.) high, and no hardware may protrude from the push side within the bottom 254 mm (10 in.); and
  • automatic operators on doors that do not provide proper egress-side maneuvering clearance for a manual door must have standby power.
A change submitted for the next edition of International Code Council (ICC) A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, would limit rotational force to 3 N-m (28 inch-pounds), and operation by a pushing/pulling motion to 66 N (15 lb).

A change submitted for the next edition of International Code Council (ICC) A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, would limit rotational force to 3 N-m (28 inch-pounds), and operation by a pushing/pulling motion to 66 N (15 lb).

Some of these issues are specific to the 2010 ADA, while others are also addressed by International Code Council (ICC) A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. This standard is referenced by the International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101, Life Safety Code, for doors on an accessible route.

Operable force for door hardware
An editorial change was made to the 2010 ADA to limit the operable force for door hardware to 22.2 N (5 lb). Editorial changes are normally used to address errors or make clarifications that do not affect the scope or application of the code requirements. These changes do not go through the normal code development process (i.e. committee hearings and opportunities for public comment). In other words, this change was unexpected.

In the 1991 edition of ADA, door hardware was required to have:

a shape that is easy to grasp, and does not require tight grasping, tight pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate.

This is the same language currently included in A117.1. No force limitation was mentioned with regard to the operation of hardware.

The 2010 edition of ADA changed the section that applies to door hardware, by referring to Paragraph 309.4–Operation:

Operable parts shall be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate operable parts shall be 5 pounds (22.2 N) maximum.

A low-energy automatic operator must be actuated by a knowing act (e.g. this wall-mounted push button), or must comply with the requirements of a Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) standard.

A low-energy automatic operator must be actuated by a knowing act (e.g. this wall-mounted push button), or must comply with the requirements of a Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) standard.

By referencing Paragraph 309.4, a limit for the operable force of hardware was established.

Conflicts and clashes
This change created conflicts with other codes and standards, and even within the 2010 ADA standards. For example, in ADA, Section 404.2.9 addresses door and gate opening force—the force required to physically open the door. This section states the 22.2-N (5-lb) limit on opening force does not apply to the force required to release the latchbolts. This implies the allowable force required to release latchbolts could be greater than the 22.2-N (5-lb) opening force. The U.S. Access Board unofficially acknowledged there was a conflict between the opening force section and the operable force required by reference, but to date the standards have not been modified.

Another conflict lies with IBC, IFC, and NFPA 101, for which panic hardware is required to operate with a maximum of 66 N (15 lb) of force to release the latch. In an attempt to establish a level of operable force aligned with other codes and standards, a change proposal was submitted for the 2015 edition of ICC A117.1. If approved, the proposal would establish a limit of 66 N (15 lb) maximum for hardware operated by a forward, pushing, or pulling motion, and 3 N-m (28 inch-pounds) maximum for hardware operated by a rotational motion.

Additionally, the 2013 California Building Code (CBC) includes language virtually identical to the 2010 ADA operable force requirements, and requires hardware to operate with 22.2 N (5 lb) of force, maximum. However, the code contains conflicting language in Section 1008.1.10–Panic and Fire Exit Hardware, which requires panic hardware to operate with a maximum of 66 N (15 lb) of force.

Given the change to CBC and the delay in addressing the conflict within the 2010 ADA standards, there are projects where the 22.2-N (5-lb) limit is being enforced for both lever-operated and panic hardware. For each project, a decision must be made regarding whether to use hardware meeting the requirements of IBC (and its referenced standard, ICC A117.1), or whether to specify hardware that meets the 22.2-N limit to avoid a conflict with ADA standards.

If a motion sensor is used to actuate a door with an automatic operator, then guide rails and safety sensors are typically required.

If a motion sensor is used to actuate a door with an automatic operator, then guide rails and safety sensors are typically required.

Actuators for automatic operators
From a codes and standards perspective, there are three basic types of automatic operators for swinging doors:

  • power-assist;
  • low-energy; and
  • full-power.

Power-assist operators reduce the opening force so the door can be manually opened more easily, but some manually applied force is still necessary. These operators are usually activated by pushing or pulling the door, although occasionally a wall-mounted actuator is employed to reduce the force only for users who need that feature.

Low-energy operators are often used when the door will be opened manually by some users and automatically by others. The doors are subject to limitations on opening speed and force to curtail the generation of kinetic energy and the potential for injury. Further, they must be operated by a ‘knowing act,’ as described later in this article.

Due to these limits, most doors with low-energy operators are not required to have safety sensors, control mats, or guide rails. Both power-assist and low-energy operators must comply with American National Standards Institute/Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (ANSI/BHMA) A156.19, Power-assist and Low-energy-operated Doors.

Full-power operators are typically found on high-use openings like the entrance to a grocery store or department store. These operators are not subject to the same restrictions on speed and force, and safety sensors or control mats and guide rails are required to prevent the doors from opening if someone is in the path of the door swing. Full-power operators must comply with ANSI/BHMA A156.10, Standard for Power-operated Pedestrian Doors.

The 2007 edition of ANSI/BHMA A156.19 introduced a requirement for power-assist and low-energy-power-operated doors to be activated by a ‘knowing act,’ and this requirement carries forward to the 2013 standard. The ‘knowing act’ method may be:

  • a push-plate actuator or non-contact switch mounted on the wall or jamb;
  • the act of manually pushing or pulling a door; or
  • an access control device like a card reader, keypad, or keyswitch.

The A156.19 standard also makes recommendations regarding the mounting location of a knowing act switch. Actuator switches should be located:

  • a maximum of 3.7 m (12 ft) from the center of the door (0.3 to 1.5 m [1 to 5 ft] is preferred)—when further, the recommended increased hold-open time is one additional second per 0.3 m (1 ft) of distance;
  • where the switch remains accessible when the door is opened, and the user can see the door when activating the switch;
  • in a location where the user would not be in the path of the moving door; and
  • at an installation height of 864 mm (34 in.) minimum and 1219 mm (48 in.) maximum above the floor.

The 2010 ADA and ICC A117.1 contain requirements pertaining to the actuators for automatic doors in addition to what is included in the referenced standard. Clear floor space for a wheelchair must be provided adjacent to the actuator, and beyond the arc of the door swing. The mounting height is variable, depending on the reach range associated with the switch location. However, the range recommended by ANSI/BHMA standards is acceptable for most applications. Actuators must not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist to operate, and the operating force is limited to 22.2 N (5 lb) maximum.

This door lacks proper maneuvering clearance on the egress side. If an automatic operator were to be installed to overcome this issue, the 2010 ADA requires standby power for the operator.

This door lacks proper maneuvering clearance on the egress side. If an automatic operator were to be installed to overcome this issue, the 2010 ADA requires standby power for the operator.

Stepping into the field of a motion sensor is not considered a knowing act. If automatic operation via a motion sensor is desired, automatic doors must comply with the standard for full power operators—ANSI/BHMA A156.10, instead of A156.19. This means even though the door may have a low-energy operator, it has to meet the same requirements as a full-power operator, including the safety sensors or control mats and guide rails.

Typically 762 mm (30 in.) high, guide rails are required on the swing side of each door. For some locations, the need for guide rails may mean motion sensor operation is not feasible. When certain criteria are met, walls may be used in place of guide rails. When doors are installed across a corridor, guide rails are not required if the distance between the wall and the door in the 90-degree open position does not exceed 254 mm (10 in.).

The 2013 California Building Code requires two push-plate actuators at each actuator location—one mounted between 178 and 203 mm (7 and 8 in.) from the floor to the centerline, and the other mounted between 762 and 1118 mm (44 in.) above the floor. Vertical actuation bars may be used in lieu of two separate actuators, with the bottom of the bar at 127 mm (5 in.) maximum above the floor and the top at 889 mm (35 in.) minimum above the floor.

Actuators must be in a conspicuous location, with a level and clear ground space outside of the door swing. The minimum size for push plates is 102 mm (4 in.) in diameter or 102 mm square, and the minimum operable portion for vertical actuation bars is 51 mm (2 in.) wide. Both types of actuators must display the International Symbol of Accessibility.

While all these requirements have the same basic intent, it is best to check state and local codes to see which standard has been adopted, and what the specifics are in reference to actuators for automatic operators. It is important to verify the actuator type/quantity, location, and any additional requirements. Further, one must keep in mind additional safety features—including sensors and guide rails—may be required for low-energy operators actuated by a motion sensor.

Some jurisdictions require actuators mounted in two positions, or a vertical bar actuator that will allow the door to be operated by a hand/arm or a crutch, cane, or wheelchair footrest.

Some jurisdictions require actuators mounted in two positions, or a vertical bar actuator that will allow the door to be operated by a hand/arm or a crutch, cane, or wheelchair footrest.

Standby power for automatic operators
The 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act includes revisions to the section on automatic doors with regard to clear width and maneuvering clearance. (These have not been included in A117.1 to date.) The ADA standards read:

404.3.1 Clear Width. Doorways shall provide a clear opening of 32 inches (815 mm) minimum in power-on and power-off mode. The minimum clear width for automatic door systems in a doorway shall be based on the clear opening provided by all leaves in the open position.

404.3.2 Maneuvering Clearance. Clearances at power-assisted doors and gates shall comply with 404.2.4. Clearances at automatic doors and gates without standby power and serving an accessible means of egress shall comply with 404.2.4.
EXCEPTION: Where automatic doors and gates remain open in the power-off condition, compliance with 404.2.4 shall not be required.

According to both accessibility standards and egress requirements, most doors have to provide at least 815 mm (32 in.) of clear opening width. (For pairs of doors, at least one leaf has to provide this.) The aforementioned Paragraph 404.3.1 states the required clear opening width must be provided “in power-on and power-off mode.” The clear opening’s full width is considered—for example, a 1.5-m (5-ft) pair of automatic doors would provide sufficient clear width even though neither leaf meets the minimum clear width for a manual door.

Maneuvering clearance for manual doors is addressed in Section 404.2.4 of the 2010 ADA. This section establishes the minimum space around the door needed by a wheelchair user to manually operate the door. The previously cited Paragraph 404.3.2 requires power-assisted doors and gates (manually operated but with reduced opening force) to have the same maneuvering clearance as manual doors. Automatic doors and gates serving an accessible means of egress without standby power would also need the required maneuvering clearance. Therefore, automatic doors and gates with standby power do not need the maneuvering clearance that would be required for a manual door.

Manual doors on an accessible route must have a smooth surface on the push side with no protruding hardware within 254 mm (10 in.) of the floor or ground. In the photo at left, these components could inhibit passage through a door opening by catching a crutch, cane, walker, or wheelchair.

Manual doors on an accessible route must have a smooth surface on the push side with no protruding hardware within 254 mm (10 in.) of the floor or ground. In the photo at left, these components could inhibit passage through a door opening by catching a crutch, cane, walker, or wheelchair.

If an existing door serving an accessible means of egress does not have the required maneuvering clearance and an auto operator is added to overcome that problem, the operator needs to have standby power (unless the door stands open on power failure per the exception). This applies to doors part of a means of egress that must be accessible in an emergency, and is intended to avoid entrapment of a person with a disability if there is a power failure. The standard does not include a requirement for how much standby power must be provided.

It is important to keep in mind automatic operators on fire-rated doors are required to be deactivated upon fire alarm. Therefore, an automatic operator with standby power should not be used on a fire-rated door to overcome maneuvering clearance problems because it will not be functional when the fire alarm is sounding.

Flush bottom rails
For many years, ICC A117.1 has included a requirement for a 254-mm (10-in.) high flush bottom rail on manual doors, and this requirement is now included in the ADA standards. The text of both standards is similar, except ADA also addresses existing doors. (This requirement appears in the “Manual Doors” section of both publications, so it does not apply to automatic doors.)

The purpose is to avoid projections that could catch a cane, crutch, walker, or wheelchair and inhibit passage through the door opening, so the requirement applies to the push side of the door only. The 254-mm (10-in.) measurement is taken from the floor or ground to the top of the horizontal bottom rail, extending the full width of the door. Prior to the 2003 edition of A117.1, the required dimension was 305 mm (12 in.).

Manual doors on an accessible route must have a smooth surface on the push side with no protruding hardware within 254 mm (10 in.) of the fl oor or ground. In the photo at left, these components could inhibit passage through a door opening by catching a crutch, cane, walker, or wheelchair.

Manual doors on an accessible route must have a smooth surface on the push side with no protruding hardware within 254 mm (10 in.) of the floor or ground. In the photo at left, these components could inhibit passage through a door opening by catching a crutch, cane, walker, or wheelchair.

The standards require the surface of swinging doors and gates within 254 mm (10 in.) of the finish floor or ground to have a smooth surface on the push side that extends the full width of the door or gate. Narrow bottom rails and protruding surface bolts, surface vertical rods, kick-down stops, and full-height door pulls installed on the push side of the door would not comply with this requirement for a 254-mm (10-in.) high smooth surface. Horizontal or vertical joints in this surface must be within 1.6 mm (1/16 in.) of the same plane. If a kick plate is added to a door with a narrow bottom rail to resolve this problem, the cavity between the kickplate and the glass or recessed panel must be capped.

There are several exceptions to this requirement. Sliding doors are not required to comply. Tempered glass doors without stiles are not required to have a 254-mm (10-in.) bottom rail (if the top of the bottom rail tapers at 60 degrees minimum from the horizontal), but protruding hardware is not allowed in the 254-mm (10-in.) high area. Doors that do not extend to within 254 mm (10 in.) of the finish floor or ground are also exempt.

As outlined in ADA, existing doors are not required to provide the 254-mm smooth surface, but if kick plates are added to widen the bottom rail, the gap between the top of the plate and the glass must be capped. Existing doors are not addressed by A117.1, which is typically used for new applications as referenced by IBC. Now the standards are consistent, and increased awareness and enforcement of this requirement seem likely.

Conclusion
With regard to these changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, some accessibility requirements are not prescriptive and enforcement varies by jurisdiction. Therefore, it can be difficult to apply the standards, especially when conflicts exist. Additionally, some states have established their own accessibility standards. Following the most stringent requirements can help to avoid problems, and the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) can also provide assistance to determine what is required.

Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI, is the codes and resources manager for Allegion. She has been in the industry for more than 25 years, and used to be a hardware consultant writing specifications. Greene is a member of CSI, the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI), the International Code Council (ICC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) Codes and Government Affairs Committee. She has a monthly column on code issues in Doors & Hardware, and blogs at www.iDigHardware.com (or www.iHateHardware.com). Greene can be contacted via e-mail at lori.greene@allegion.com.

Standards and Terminologies

In the May 2014 issue of The Construction Specifier, we published the article, “Passive Fire Protection and Interior Wall Assemblies,” by Gregg Stahl. Soon after, a reader contacted us regarding what he considered inaccuracies. We reached out to the author and, in the interest of continuing the discourse about this important topic, excerpts from both sides are included below.

Reader: The first issue is the reference to ASTM E603. The author mentions this is one of two standards that rates assemblies. Actually, ASTM E603 is a “guide” standard, and is used to explain the various types of fire tests, whether they are ASTM, NFPA, UL, or FM, and how they can be compared and contrasted. This standard is not a test method.
Author: The reader brings up several good points in regard to the article on passive fire protection. It should be noted, however, this piece was intended to provide a general overview on the basic principles of passive fire protection. As to the first point, the reader is technically correct. E603 is in fact an ASTM “Guide,” not an ASTM “Standard.” In the “Scope” section of this guide, it does state one of the purposes is to “allow(s) users to obtain fire-test-response characteristics of materials, products, or assemblies, which are useful data for describing or appraising their fire performance under actual fire conditions.” In the subsequent paragraphs, I go on to describe how A603 is used as well as differentiating it from the E119 fire test, which is testing the effectiveness of a particular assembly.

Reader: The second issue is the article states ASTM E119 tests the effectiveness of an assembly as a “fire barrier.” Although not untrue, the use of “fire barrier” seems to limit the type of fire-rated assembly that is tested, since a “fire barrier” is a specific type of fire-rated assembly used by the IBC and NFPA. ASTM E119 is used to test any type of assembly for fire-resistance, whether it is a wall, roof system, floor system, column, beam, etc.
Author: I should have been more precise in the selection of the terminology used. The intent of the term was to use a dictionary meaning, not a fire test assembly meaning. A Google search for the term will produce numerous definitions, such as the one below:

fire barrier: a continuous vertical or horizontal assembly, such as a wall or floor, that is designed and constructed with a specified fire resistance rating to limit the spread of fire and that also will restrict the movement of smoke. Such barriers might have protected openings.

Reader: The third issue is mentioning the hose stream test is used to “measure an assembly’s resistance to water pressure.” This is misleading. The hose stream test is not really a measure of an assembly’s resistance to water pressure, but to test the system’s integrity. As the commentary to the standard states, the hose stream tests the “ability of the construction to resist disintegration under adverse conditions.” In other words, it is a way of testing, from a distance (it is very hot) the assembly’s integrity from falling debris.
Author: The reader references “the standard,” but I do not know to which standard he is referring. ASTM E2226, Standard Practice for Application of Hose Stream, states:

1.3 – The result derived from this practice is one factor in assessing the integrity of building elements after fire exposure. The practice prescribes a standard hose stream exposure for comparing performance of building elements after fire exposure and evaluates various materials and construction techniques under common conditions.

The application of the hose stream does exert pressure on the assembly after it has completed either the full cycle of an E119 fire test or 50 percent of the time of the rated wall assembly. I agree the single word “pressure” does not go far enough to explain—the intent was to determine the integrity of the remaining assembly.

Reader: The fourth and final issue is the use of “area separation firewalls” in the article, and its associated endnote. The use of “area separation” walls was dropped when the IBC was published in 2000, and is not a term used by NFPA’s standards. The correct term used by both the IBC and NFPA is “fire wall” (not a single word). The endnote (no. 3) gives the impression these “area separation firewalls” are used to separate residential units or commercial tenants. This is incorrect. A fire wall divides a building—residential or commercial—into separate buildings so they can be considered independently when applying the code. “Fire partitions” are used for residential unit and commercial tenant separations within a single building and do not require the type of requirements described in the article.
Author: I respectfully disagree with the reader, who seems to be making the reference to area separation walls fit his use without recognizing the term can have more than one use or intent. It was employed here with no reference to NFPA or IBC, and was not intended as the reader interpreted it.
The term “area separation wall”—or “ASW” as it is commonly abbreviated—is used for a particular type of fire-rated wall assembly with a two-hour fire resistance rating, which is typically intended to permit controlled collapse of one unit in a multifamily residence, while still remaining intact and able to protect the adjacent unit in a fire situation. This is a common term in the construction industry. The reader can check the literature of various manufacturers and find this type of assembly. There are also various UL assemblies for this type of construction.

Safety, Security, and Specialty Doors: Finding new solutions within familiar products

All images courtesy Cornell Iron Works

All images courtesy Cornell Iron Works

by Jason Millard, CSI

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the biggest challenge is inventing product solutions to address the blurring lines between occupant safety and building security.

Today, design/construction professionals are faced with evolving requirements that couple the demands for environmental separation and access control, while still maintaining fire protection and emergency egress for building occupants. While these new challenges appear daunting, it may be surprising to learn their solutions can often be found by looking at familiar products from a different perspective.

As there is rarely only one answer for each situation, by combining advanced operational features with traditional closure products, a new generation of multi-function products are now being configured to balance the challenge between safety and security. These products are being specified to serve different purposes based on their application and the specific situation at hand.

The result is the emergence of comprehensive life safety and security systems that integrate familiar products in a unique fashion. Whether through advance planning in the new construction design phase, or adaptation of installed product in existing facilities, these new configurations may perform a vital role in one’s overall emergency response plans.

Activated by central or local alarms, advanced fi re door systems deploy before reaching fusible link melting points. They are easily returned to operation without having to reset spring tension.

Activated by central or local alarms, advanced fire door systems deploy before reaching fusible link  melting points. They are easily returned to operation without having to reset spring tension.

An access-controlled means of egress, emergency egress grilles automatically unlock upon alarm, and rise to the full opening height to allow safe escape.

An access-controlled means of egress, emergency egress grilles automatically unlock upon alarm, and rise to the full opening height to allow safe escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling grilles for emergency response
One example involves eliminating dead-end corridors, while still providing an appropriate level of security in public buildings. Commonly used to restrict traffic flow, rolling grilles are frequently installed with their guides buried within the wall and their header assemblies mounted above the ceiling. This provides a physical barrier that can be locked by facility management, but is also unobtrusive when not in use.

Although these open-air grilles have been a preferred way of securing corridors while maintaining visibility and air flow, section “1008.1.4.4 Security Grilles” in the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) states:

The grilles shall remain secured in the full-open position during the period of occupancy by the general public. Where two or more means of egress are required, not more than one-half of the exits or exit access doorways shall be equipped with horizontal sliding or vertical security grilles.

Understandably, this creates a conflict when faced with having to compartmentalize a building while it is occupied, or execute an effective egress plan.

Fortunately, the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) has examined a way to provide both security and access-controlled egress in security grille applications. In issuing Evaluation Guideline (EG) 287, the ICC-ES established a new “Emergency Response Grille” product category where specially configured grilles are evaluated as access-controlled means of egress doors, per section 1008.1.9.8.

Typically stored above the ceiling, rolling steel doors can be automatically lowered to provide access control and compartmentalization throughout the building’s interior.

Typically stored above the ceiling, rolling steel doors can be automatically lowered to provide access control and compartmentalization throughout the building’s interior.

Emergency response grilles complying with EG287 combine technology from advanced, non-spring-tension-release fire door operators with traditional grille elements to ensure automatic operation during a crisis, while still providing cross-corridor security on a daily basis. Similar to the fire doors that use these systems, emergency response grilles are activated by alarm or power outage. Unlike fire doors, emergency response grilles automatically unlock and rise to their full open position when activated, allowing occupants safe escape.

While emergency response grilles evaluated to EG287 are recognized as a way to address section 1008.1.4.4 and dead-end corridors, it is important to recognize their requirements have not yet been described in the current IBC language. As such, one must verify any emergency response grille being specified possesses an ICC-ES Evaluation Report to ensure it is compliant with the building code’s testing, performance, and installation requirements. This is assurance the product will be properly configured, including the signage and devices required to also make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fire-rated accordion doors
Another possible way to combine security, fire protection, and emergency egress is through specifying fire-rated accordion doors. Previously considered solely as a means to provide fire and smoke protection for large openings or to preserve an open design, fire-rated accordion doors were commonly relegated to their storage pockets and only brought out into the open during testing or an emergency. However, by modifying their controls, their sequence of operation can be adapted to perform multiple functions without effecting their listing or code approval.

The same accordion door design features that provide a three-hour, Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-classified fire rating and Sound Transmission Class (STC) 41 sound attenuation can also function to block unwanted entry. Since they comprise dual-wall construction separated by an insular air gap, it was logical their 24-gauge, commercial-grade steel panels and hinges could be applied to restrict entry, divert projectiles, and still provide property and life safety in a fire emergency.

Accordion partitions may be used to create a physical barrier across corridors, yet also allow emergency egress when required.

Accordion partitions may be used to create a physical barrier across corridors, yet also allow emergency egress when required.

When security is desired at an opening also critical for fire protection or located in a path of egress, the accordion door’s operation can be programmed to hold it in a secured position. If an alarm condition activates the door, it will remain in the closed position and continue to block unwanted entry while also providing an effective fire and smoke barrier. At this point, as described in section “1008.1.4.3 Horizontal sliding doors” of the 2012 IBC, its egress capabilities will also be activated and present to help occupants safely exit the building.

During the egress process and while under alarm, the accordion door will continue to return to the closed position. Once the alarm has been cleared, security will have been restored at the opening. Having a new life outside of their pocket, fire-rated accordion may also be powder coated to meet the building’s design aesthetic and, when desired, incorporate vision windows. Depending on the specific building code requirements, these ‘hidden responders’ may also allow the architect to eliminate banks of manual swing doors to retain an ‘open design’ concept.

Rolling steel fire doors
Rolling steel fire doors have also evolved to provide alternate safety and security solutions. Historically, conventional coiling fire doors were activated by the melting of a fusible link that caused the door to lose spring tension, allowing it to fall. By using the advanced fire door operator systems mentioned earlier, rolling steel fire doors can now be activated electrically without causing the need to reset the door’s spring tension afterwards.

These intelligent systems also allow the door to be remotely operated. By signaling the doors from a central security system or command center, commonly overlooked coiling steel fire doors can now be incorporated as part of an overall lockdown protocol. Rolling steel fire doors are also able to be fitted with vision windows to provide a secure vantage point. Once the threat has passed, the doors may also be opened from the same central location.

Common rolling steel doors are also being adapted for lockdown use in much the same way. Long specified in vestibule and sally-port applications, their robust construction creates a formidable barrier. With the advent of UL 325-2010, Door, Drapery, Gate, Louver, and Window Operators and Systems, additional logic-control systems have been added to the operators of these rolling steel doors to provide the intelligence needed to continuously monitor the doors’ sensing devices.

Tapping into this increased flexibility, service doors featuring these operators can be monitored and controlled from a central dispatch location, as well as accept more advanced means of activation. Advanced fire door operating systems can also be applied to service doors when there is a desire for automatic closing upon alarm activation. These system enhancements can be applied to fire-rated and non-rated counter doors to achieve the same functionality at service openings or smaller access points, including window and conveyor openings.

Traditional products, when thought of in the context of alternate functionality, yield new design solutions.

Traditional products, when thought of in the context of alternate functionality, yield new design solutions.

Conclusion
As illustrated by the few examples discussed in this article and shown in Figure 1, the cross-category combination of existing products and operating systems is being used to address dead-end corridors, central dispatch, and lock down requirements while preserving their core security and fire protection functionality. The incorporation of logic controls and the ability to coordinate with the facility’s existing IT infrastructure also contributed to the creation of emerging product categories and driven recent, performance-based building code acceptance.

Every scenario is different, and the level of demand for combining access control and building security with occupant safety greatly varies. Careful examination of all the variables needs to be completed, as well as a full understanding of the options at one’s disposal. Nevertheless, by blurring the lines of traditional products and their common application, design professionals are able to now provide alternate solutions to today’s issues through the unique adaptation of familiar products.

Jason Millard, CSI, is the supervisor of the architectural design support team at Cornell Iron Works. Millard has more than 15 years of experience in the rolling door industry and specializes in product applications based on building owners’ needs. He can be reached at jason.millard@cornelliron.com.