The Fire Brigade Organization NVBR, the Dutch Association for Fire & Disaster Management, has published a new publication "Fire Safety Systems". In this handbook, which is important for the building and use permit, a separate chapter (10) is dedicated to safe functioning of doors in escape routes. This shows that the fire service is happy to see the often conflicting interests and undesirable side effects around emergency and escape doors. But that does not solve everything. What is going on?
Problem doors Emergency and emergency exit doors are by definition implementation and management of problematic doors. The requirements are quite contradictory. Easily and quickly without a key to the outside, but on the other hand requirements for burglary resistance. The requirements can also be at odds with each other in other areas. For example, in the hospitality industry and discos, escape doors should not be used in certain situations due to noise pollution. Or in the event of an emergency, the emergency exit doors may not swing out onto the public road (sidewalk). And if they are already turning outside, how do you prevent that no bicycles are placed outside the door or that cars are parked next to them? A great deal of attention must be paid to the design, implementation and management of emergency and escape door situations in order to arrive at responsible and well-functioning solutions. The complex problem means that the granting of user permits must increasingly take place integrally. Integral here means that the fire brigade, environmental service, labor inspectorate, construction and home supervision and, if necessary, the police also sit down together in complex situations.
Safe outside The forward force of an urgent and pushing crowd can go up to a deadly 500 kg at the front when the escape door does not open. Under those circumstances, the requirement is understandable that it must be possible to reach the securely contiguous terrain without using a key and with light pressure on a lock. Safe flight from buildings makes a difference between escape and emergency doors. Emergency doors are based on a relatively small number of users who are familiar with the situation in the building. The term escape door applies to buildings with a public function. In the case of an emergency door, a relatively simple lock without a key may be used with a door handle or pressure plate (NEN EN 179). For escape doors the requirement applies that under the most unpleasant circumstances the doors can always be opened by a relatively light pressure on a horizontal operating rod or beam (NEN EN 1125).
That light operating force on the control rod or beam must be maintained to a certain extent, despite the pressure on the door leaf by the intrusive crowds. With regard to the required maximum operating forces, a panic closure should be thought to be approximately 8 kg with an unloaded door leaf and 22 kg with a door load of 100 kg.
Burglar resistance With burglary prevention, the roles of emergency and escape doors in external facades are often reversed. Get out quickly when burglary prevention is agreed when outbreak prevention does not play a role in a security plan. But, of course, from the outside it cannot take long enough for people to enter after being set aside. For these (emergency and escape) doors in exterior walls, insurers usually demand a defined level of burglary resistance according to NEN EN 5096. If an alarm system is used, a common contact on the door will only function when the door opens. That is too late. If it is detected, it must be on the door immediately at the start of the attack, but that is not yet easy without the chance of frequent unnecessary alarms, but it can be solved.
Depending on the level of risk, provisions will have to be made in the door leaf to prevent easy manipulation of the control rod from outside (drill holes and the like). This can be solved in higher risk situations, for example, by using laminated door leaf material in which a layer of manganese steel plate is incorporated. Locks with a panic function cannot be certified in terms of burglary resistance in the known way. The degree of burglary-resistance indicated by 'stars' will therefore not be found on such locks. They do not meet the applicable requirement that they must be capable of being locked on the inside with a key. This could cause problems with, for example, the requirements of insurers. In a practical sense, however, the problem can be adequately addressed because the SKG * inspection body can issue declarations for that purpose demonstrating the burglary-resistant value of the lock ('stars'), with the exception of the requirement for internal lockability. The well-known lock manufacturers provide further information on this.
Improper use Another disadvantage is that emergency and escape doors are all too often used improperly by staff and visitors. The motives for this undesirable use vary considerably: via the shortest route to the outside, smoking for a while, ventilating in hot weather, theft, guiding in unwanted persons, etc. If the resulting risks are considered high, use should of the escape doors to be detected 24 hours a day. This is possible as an invisible part of a (burglary) alarm system. In many cases, the risk of improper use of the emergency or escape door can be sufficiently limited by the use of additional, clearly visible means that form a barrier to the use of these doors. When using the GfS Exit Control as a mechanical door protection, the escape situation is not affected. The new standards NEN EN 179 and 1125 allow integration of the GfS Exit Control. With the correct application of the vertical sliding protection there is no longer any additional action in a practical sense. In theory, it hardly or noticeably increases the operating force. A (built-in) local acoustic alarm will attract attention in the event of unauthorized use of that door. Such solutions can also be part of a more extensive (wireless) alarm system with transmission to a central station and connection to a closed TV circuit.
Electrically controlled door locks The European Standard NEN EN 13637 has been developed for this form of locking and control. There is a very wide range of options, including integration into fire and burglar alarm systems, access control and time registration systems and robbery protection. Important are the preconditions applied by the fire brigade with regard to: • Quiescent current principle (no voltage = unlock) • Manual operation (green control button with instruction) • Central control (unlock all doors simultaneously) • Automatic control (fire alarm = unlock)
For emergency and escape doors, electromagnetic locks are preferred. Electro-locks may be used, provided that a special bolt construction sufficiently guarantees the easy unlocking of the door leaf with pushing forces.
European Standards Three (still English-language standards) make communication for design and execution about the door closures to be used easy: NEN EN 179 Emergeny exit devices (closures for emergency exits) NEN EN 1125 Panic exit devices (panic closures) NEN EN 13637 Emergency exit systems (Electrically operated emergency door closures)