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Basics of Egress Devices

egress devices - emergency exit doors

Access control is important for the security of any facility. But, it’s not just access controls or restrictions that are needed; it’s also important to install the right egress controls as well. A means to freely exit through any facility door is imperative for life safety, which is where egress devices come in. Here are the basics of egress devices:

What is an Egress Device?

An egress device or exit device is defined as a mechanism that allows exit from a building, room, or enclosed space. Egress is going out or exiting and the device is the means that provides the ability to exit; usually in addition to a door or as an enhancement to a door. Push buttons, push bars, delayed egress, emergency release, motion sensors, etc. that open a door and allow exit are all considered egress devices.

General Guidelines for Egress Devices

The National Fire Protection Association, in addition to other federal and state agencies, mandates that people must be able to exit freely and easily through any door in an emergency. There may be more regulations or specific regulations that vary by state and type of facility regarding maintaining life safety, but there are some general guidelines for installing effective and approved egress devices:

  1. The egress device, the mechanism that allows for exit, must not require special tools or knowledge to operate the doors or locks when attempting to exit.
  2. There is only one lock on a door that prevents egress and it requires only one, easy operation to allow egress.
  3. Operation of the egress device must be clear and can be done easily in all lighting/visibility conditions.
  4. Emergency and normal egress is allowed through doors at all times.
  5. When there is a fire alarm system in place, manual or automatic activation of it automatically unlocks the doors.
  6. If magnetic or electronic locking devices are in use, doors must automatically unlock to allow egress when there is a loss of power.

4 Common Types of Egress Devices

There are several means of egress available. Some are installed as part of a door while others can be added as an enhancement. Here are some common types of egress devices:

1. Delayed Egress

Delayed egress devices are a great option for healthcare and senior living facilities where wandering and elopement are security concerns. They are also a good solution for emergency plans in other facilities as well. In fact, delayed egress magnetic locks on emergency exits are one of the security solutions for warehouses.

Delayed egress locks will alarm and unlock immediately when they receive a signal from the fire alarm system in an emergency situation. When someone tries to exit from a door with delayed egress locks outside of an emergency situation, an alarm sounds to alert staff and there is a delay before the door unlocks.

The delay is usually around 15 seconds. However, many modern options allow for this time frame to be adjusted and customized. This can be a useful component of an effective wander management system and add another layer of security to facilities that require it.

2. Motion Sensors

Motion sensors, generally infrared, allow the door to unlock when motion is detected near the sensor. They tend to have a narrow activation field that is limited to the door handle. These motion sensors are designed to eliminate false activation from anything placed under the door from the other side.

These features help prevent unauthorized entry while also still allowing for egress. Modern motion sensors are usually built to not be susceptible to thermal changes and can be customized to have delayed egress as well to allow for staff approvals for egress outside of an emergency. A touchless exit switch where you wave your hand in front of a small area to open the door is one example of a motion sensor egress device.

3. Push-to-Exit Buttons

Push-to-exit buttons are common types of egress devices, especially for making buildings more accessible. These egress devices also cover a large category of devices.

Small, lighted push-to-exit buttons to large metal push-to-open push plates and everything in between; if it’s a button you push that unlocks the door so it can be opened or that opens the door automatically, it can be considered a push-to-exit button.

4. Request-to-Exit Push Bars

Request-to-exit push bars, also colloquially referred to as “crash bars”, are bars installed across the interior of a door that unlocks and opens the door to allow for exit upon pushing the bar. They are a great option for doors included in an access control system and also for eliminating the need for wall switches.

They can be magnetic, electronic, or manual and can be designed to open a door automatically to improve accessibility. With magnetic or electronic push bars, there can be additional security measures like delayed egress in place to allow for monitored egress outside of an emergency situation.

Get the Right Egress Devices for Your Facility

These are just some of the basics of egress devices. The right egress devices will vary from facility to facility and there may be other regulations your facility is required to meet per your state, type of facility, and more. If you need locks and egress devices for your facility, contact NEPPS at 800-736-1456.