The changing standards applicable to Escape doors

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The changing standards applicable to Escape doors

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Most observers of the Keyways magazine will most likely recall a similar feature after the change in the ‘Constructions Product Regulations’ in July 2013.   The main points that were covered in this feature remain the same and as we are all aware, any products that are intended for use on Escape door applications must be ‘CE’ marked to the appropriate British Standard covering the doors intended use.

Previously there were two different standards –

BS179 for Emergency Escape doors And BS1125 for Panic Escape doors

The method of escape is determined by the risk, as demonstrated in the image above, however, it is important to note that the slide above is only an illustration because the solution that we need to specify and provide is actually a combination of products that collectively carry a valid ‘CE’ mark. 

Furthermore, the illustration above shows a lever handle or paddle handle as a compliant solution, however, the complete solution consists of a number of products tested and ‘CE’ marked to EN179 as a package.  In this case, the package of parts required to provide a solution includes, a tested Lever handle set and spindle, a mortice lock case, and the striker plate.  All of these items are tested as a complete set and cannot be substituted unless the ‘DoP’ (Declaration of Performance) specifically makes reference to alternatives.  It is quite common for ‘DoP’s to list a number of alternative strikes that can be used and often alternative lever handles, and in this case, the products can be mixed as required allowing flexibility and customer choice as well as providing similar compliant solutions, allowing for different door types.   

DoP’s are a legal document provided by the manufacturer stating that the product (or combination of products) meets the minimum performance criteria for the application in question.  DoP’s are only supplied for products that are covered by a Harmonised standard. Harmonised standards are known as hEN’s, and in the case of Fire and/or Escape doors the scope concerns life safety.    Generally, manufacturers provide DoP’s for products that are designed for use on Fire or Escape doors, but it is possible for distributors to ‘CE’ mark product combinations and create their own DoP’s for the product (or combination of products), meeting the minimum performance standard of the relevant hEN.  Legally, this document must be provided on request, and it is seen as a minimum requirement for legal compliance of the applications.

Earlier in this article, the substitution of part of the package, particularly for Escape applications, was discussed. Whilst this is possible, within a defined range - as identified on the relevant DoP, the manufacturer/distributor placing this product combination on the market confirms that it meets the minimum performance criteria as long as, nothing is substituted. Therefore, if the supplier replaces any component (the lever handle, striker plate, or lock case) with one that is not specifically noted on the DoP- the DoP is rendered invalid, and it will be the responsibility of the manufacturer / distributor suppling this product, assuming that they intend it to used on a Fire or an Escape door set, to provide on request a DoP covering this combination for 10 years post-sale.  

BS 179 and BS 1125 have been around for a long time and mechanically, have been well established standards for many years. Whilst it is possible to provide electric locking solutions that meet these requirements, and often desirable providing for security and Access Control, the lack of an electric locking standard has and still does cause confusion and mis-specification in the market place.

Thankfully, clarity now exists with respect to both Fire and Escape applications under the provisions of BS 13637 - Building hardware - Electrically controlled exit systems for use on escape routes – completing the package and providing a solution for applications.  This standard describes methods of escape for Escape doors and Escape doors that are also Fire doors.  Non-Escape fire door applications are covered from a locking perspective under BS 14846 Electromechanically operated locks and striking plates, the sister standard to BS 12209 covering the same application for mechanical locks.  Both of these standards BS 14846 and BS 12209 are hEN’s, hence products fitted to Fire door applications must be ‘CE’ marked to the relevant standard.  These products are not suitable for use on Panic or Emergency escape door sets unless they are also ‘CE’ marked to BS 179 or BS 1125 as part of a set of components.

The publication of BS 13637 - Building hardware - Electrically controlled exit systems for use on escape routes now completes the package in terms of escape door compliance, allowing a host of additional opportunities for electrically controlling escape applications.  The standard will eventually become a hEN and it is expected that this will be fully in place by 2016. Currently, it is not possible to ‘CE’ mark to this standard so it’s not covered fully under the Constructions Product Regulations until this process is complete.  Nonetheless, it is a published standard and as such considered as best practice. 

Similar to the existing standards, the new escape standard describes a complete solution, ‘Control’ ‘Activation’ and ‘Blocking’; all of these elements need to be tested as a complete solution.   The standard is loosely based on the existing German (EltVTR) and French standards that have been successfully utilised in many successful applications over many years. 

BS 13637 can be supplied as a single solution providing for fail unlocked electric locking on Escape doors sets, but is often combined with a mechanical BS 179 / 1125 solution providing for both escape and security. 

For the first time, it is now technically possible to provide a compliant solution for an Access Control solution for an Escape door set that provides for ‘read in read out’ applications. 

The question is often raised regarding whether it is best to continue with what has been considered as the norm for many years, of providing a magnet with an Emergency Door release, and Request to Exit switch interfaced to the buildings Fire Alarm system, and simply- the answer is no.  

BS 13637 - Building hardware - Electrically controlled exit systems for use on escape routes calls for a complete and tested solution meeting the full requirements of scope of the standard, and in actual fact does not use break glass as the exit method. 

Many European manufacturers currently supply systems that meet the current continental regulations and they will all be in the process of updating their product offer to meet this standard and eventually as it becomes fully ratified the requirement to ‘CE’ mark it. 

BS 13637 - Building hardware - Electrically controlled exit systems for use on escape routes, allows for delayed egress or even blocked egress where local planning and or circumstances require this functionality, but this in itself has to be justified and managed.  This is a very specialist area of this standard and it’s not possible to address all of this in the article, however Abloy UK are able to offer full familiarisation and training via The Abloy Academy. To find out more about the courses that are offered at the Academy- visit www.abloy.co.uk/academy.   

Typical solutions to this problem can be covered with package specification in a very similar way to the current escape standards.  From a starting point, the purpose of the door needs to be understood, noting that the CPR applies to all doors that are Fire Doors or and Escape door sets. Typically, all doors fall into the broad categories outlined below.

It has been assumed for this document that BS 13637 has been fully ratified and ‘CE’ marking is possible and mandatory (future state).

Once the doors requirements are understood, it is possible to seek a solution by performance standards. This document reads in conjunction with the ABLOY Compliance Handbook and the eff-eff Escape Door Systems guide, (in draft format currently).

Typical solutions to this standard include the following applications and variation of the theme.

This is a typical standalone application with the ‘blocking’ provided on the door set, in this case via a fail unlocked electric strike that releases under side pressure, the ‘Control’ provided through the release button, that has a built in status indication, red LED’s indicating that the door is blocked, and Green LED’s confirming the door set is providing free egress.  (In time delayed or blocked applications these doors provide both an indication of the status and also a countdown timer indicating when the door is free for escape, these as discussed are special applications, further detail on request).  ‘Activation’ is provided via the escape switch in the Control unit breaking the power directly, in line with the blocking element.  This must be interfaced with the building’s alarm system, breaking the power to the lock in the event of an Alarm activation.  These units are designed to provide a status indication and can be singular or part of a network solution to a number of doors providing for planed escape.  ‘Read in read out’ applications can be achieved with the addition of card reader / keypad etc. that can often be incorporated as part of the Control unit.  However, it is important to be mindful that this is again as explained previously, a complete and tested / certified solution - not a combination of parts supplied from a variety of suppliers, unless the distributor is prepared to ‘CE’ mark these as a solution.  (Future state).

The standard also describes combinations where both security and escape can be combined, and in this case the solution is effectively a combination of the standards.  This also provides for secure ‘read in read out’ applications.

Effectively, it is necessary to look for a solution to BS 179 for Emergency Escape doors or BS 1125 for Panic Escape doors dependant on the doors use, (please refer to the detail at the start of the document) and then overlay an Escape door solution to BS 13637, as illustrated in the pictorial representation above.

The security of the door is maintained at all times through the provisions of BS 179 for Emergency Escape doors or BS 1125 for Panic Escape doors, configured as Fail Locked if it is an electric lock specification, noting that this does not prevent escape because the activating device (Lever, Paddle handle or Panic Bar) will always allow for free egress.  However, the door will be secured with the secondary fail unlocked ‘Blocking Device’ that will release on activation of the Fire Alarm system, or after depressing the escape switch, and of course if  ‘read in read out’ applications are required for security applications after presentation of  a valid Access Control credential.

In all cases, all products fitted to Fire Door applications must have a valid Fire Test and in the case of hardware fitted to Fire Doors, it is necessary to look to the classification code of the standard and ensure that there is a digit 1 in box confirming that the product has been Fire tested to BS 1634.

This is a fantastic opportunity allowing for Live Safety in terms of Escape and the compartmentalisation of a building, whilst for the first time providing for both security on Escape doors and the inclusion of compliant ‘read in read out’ applications.

It is a vast subject and standards are and will become a more important part of our daily work, allowing confident differentiation and maintaining of professional standing. It will ensure that opportunities are utilised to the maximum and finally - enable customers to be happy and safe in the knowledge that they will be able to escape the building through their escape doors as required, and that the fire doors will function as they were designed to protect Escape routes.

For more information please contact Abloy

Published March 2016

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  1. The changing standards applicable to Escape doors

    Most observers of the Keyways magazine will most likely recall a similar feature after the change in the ‘Constructions Product Regulations’ in July 2013.   The ... we are all aware, any products that are intended for use on Escape ...

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