How to read a BHMA Certification
Using the example of a hinge specification, type numbers will read as:
2–Material (Wrought Brass or Bronze);
4–Type (Half Surface Hinge);
1–Description (Anti-friction Bearing); and
2–Performance Grade (Grade 2).
After consulting the BHMA certification number of a project, a specifier or engineer can determine whether the product performs the required task.
Grades are determined by tests designed to measure a product’s performance capabilities. They assist the specifier in determining which product is most appropriate for a project. Performance assurance is especially important for products that have an impact on life safety and security. For those less familiar with builders hardware, definitions for the products and technical jargon are included throughout the standards. (See “Builders Hardware Terms” at the end of this article.)
After the specification process, these standards can also be applied to help facility mangers determine if a product is operating correctly, and to ensure it was installed and made for the right purposes. For example, when an exit device is pushed, it should not require more than 67 N (15 lb) of force, as stated in the standards. Also, many of the standards for builders hardware come with illustrations for better specification.
As mentioned, builders hardware impacts life safety and security, and it is therefore one of the few categories of functional hardware that is specified. These components are subject to repeated use and wear, yet must withstand constant operation. The standards are not designated for use by facility type, but some facilities tend to rely on certain standards.
Hospitals have a large number of practical and operational matters to take into consideration during design planning. They must be functional for staff and personnel, while also providing easy access for patients with limited mobility. By limiting the amount of touch surfaces, which can pass germs in highly trafficked areas, the potential for spreading infection is minimized. Also, as a highly populated building, a hospital must meet safety and fire requirements when it comes to builders hardware.
Low-power-operated doors are common throughout many hospitals. BHMA 156.19, Power-assist and Low-energy Power-operated Doors, deals with assemblies that allow patients to easily navigate and access the hospital. They also have the added benefit of making it unnecessary to touch a handle. Placing sensors in front of doors that open when someone walks in front of them helps reduce potential for the spread of germs and infections through touching a handle or button.
Push/pull passage locks offer a similar benefit. They are often specified for patient rooms to provide privacy, but they can be opened without a lever so nurses or other staff members can exit or enter the room with their hands full.
Hospitals also commonly rely on BHMA 156.24, Delayed Egress Locks. For a patient suffering from dementia and requiring a certain level of security in a hospital, wandering can be prevented by using the features of a delayed egress lock. However, the hospital must balance egress during an emergency situation with the security needed to keep patients safe. A delayed egress lock does this by activating an alarm to notify personnel the door is being used, but will open within 10 seconds to allow for exiting during an emergency. Specifiers must be acutely aware of situations like this in a hospital, and the BHMA standards are essential to properly executing this process.
Hospitals often use National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101, Life Safety Code, which includes references to the BHMA standards, including those for exit devices and low-power-operated doors.
Schools face a particular set of challenges in their design and operation, but they are not necessarily much different than those posed by other buildings being discussed.
Similar to other public buildings, schools must meet requirements for assembly areas. Exit devices, also known as ‘panic devices,’ are common. Mostly used in auditoriums and gymnasiums, they are required for educational occupancies that can be highly crowded and difficult to escape. The devices employ a release bar across the door that, when pushed, releases the latch bolt and allows the door to easily open.
Many schools employ door closers, especially as they are required on fire doors. For example, a door in a location designated to help stop a fire from spreading (e.g. fire partition, fire barrier, or fire wall) needs a closer to ensure it is completely closed. The testing for Grade 1 door closers endure two million cycles, to make certain the best products do not fail when they are needed. The full array of requirements for their performance is described in ANSI/BHMA A156.3, Exit Devices.
BHMA standards for schools also include ANSI/BHMA A156.2, Bored and Preassembled Locks and Latches, and ANSI/BHMA A156.13, Mortise Locks and Latches, Series 1000. These bored and mortise locks provide a special classroom function; they enable a door to be secured from the outside solely with a key—this way a teacher cannot be locked out of the room.
For schools, nothing less than Grade 1 products generally suffices, meaning products tested and certified perform at the highest level under the toughest conditions. All builders hardware in schools need exceptional durability and strength for the long-term wear and tear that will be put on the products. Tests such as the vertical load test are not much different than the stresses these products actually face once in use.