Can Fire Exit Doors Be Locked: Safety, Regulations And Beyond

Photo of author

Door Vigilant

Fire exits are an important aspect of disaster planning and emergency preparedness. A well-maintained exit door configuration is critical for effective evacuation during a crisis, but can these doors be locked?

Many people worry if keeping a building or property secure outweighs the requirement for quick evacuations through fire exits. We’re here to provide a factual response to your query: yes, fire exit doors can be locked.

In this blog post, we go over the safety rules that apply to fire exit door locks in detail. We also discuss when and how to utilize them to keep your living/work environment secure while yet being accessible in the event of an emergency.

Can Fire Exit Doors Be Locked? An Overview

Fire exit doors are an essential safety feature that’s required by most building codes. However, there is some debate over whether or not these doors should be kept locked.

Locking the fire exit door can help prevent intruders from entering the premises. Yet, it can make it difficult for individuals trying to escape during an emergency.

To protect both the safety of employees and visitors as well as comply with local codes, many organizations choose to secure their fire exits with specialized devices like magnetic locks and panic bars. By taking this step, they can ensure that their exits remain secure yet still be quickly accessible in case of an emergency.

Read Also: Different Types Of Exit Doors And Lock System

Overview Of Laws Around Locking Fire Exit Doors

Locking fire exit doors is subject to a variety of regulations and safety standards, ranging from local to federal levels. At the local level, cities and towns may have specific ordinances in place that prohibit or restrict the locking of fire exit doors.

At the state level, there may be building codes or other regulations related to the locking of fire exit doors. Additionally, states may impose criminal penalties for those who intentionally or negligently lock or impede access to emergency exits.

“Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside,” according to OSHA.GOV. They must be clear of any gadgets or alarms that could obstruct the exit route if the device or alarm fails.

In mental, penal, or correctional institutes, exit doors can only be locked from the inside. Nonetheless, you must engage employees to provide constant supervision and evacuate inhabitants from the facility in the event of an emergency.

Side-hinged exit doors must be used to connect rooms to exit pathways. The escape tunnel must terminate straight outside, on a roadway, or in an open place. The fire escape space must be large enough to accommodate all of the facility’s occupants.

Besides the above, you exit door should be at least 28 inches wide so that occupants can move freely in case of emergency.

In addition to these laws, there are also a number of safety codes and standards related to fire exits that must be followed in order to maintain appropriate levels of public safety.

Benefits Of Locking Fire Exit Doors

We all know that the purpose of a fire exit door is to allow inhabitants to escape from facilities in the event of an emergency while also protecting the premises from invaders. Municipal and state building codes also advise the installation of effective fire exit doors. As a result, having a fire exit door at your premises is always advantageous.

Let’s look at some of the primary advantages of installing fire exit doors.

  • The primary benefit of having fire exit door is to allow resident to escape in case of any emergency arises. It is specially essential for hospitals, shopping malls, office buildings, or other public places.
  • Locking fire exit doors from inside can provide an additional layer of security for building owners and tenants. It assist to reduce the risk of unauthorized people entering the premises.
  • By securing these exits with locks or access control systems, a building owner can better manage who has access to their building and when. Thus, they can minimize their liability for any security-related incidents.
  • Furthermore, locking fire exit doors helps to ensure that visitors are not able to easily leave without being detected and monitored by the building’s security team.
  • In addition to improving safety and reducing potential liability, locking fire exit doors also eliminate the need to pay large amount of premium for sudden accident like fire hazards.
  • Because fire escape doors can only be opened from the inside, they improve overall building security by preventing intruders from getting simple entrances. It is also difficult to break in because they are constructed with great care.

Potential Challenges To Locking Fire Exit Doors

While there are certain advantages to locking fire exit doors, there are also some possible risks. These are as follows:

  • The fundamental challenge in locking the fire exit door is making it simple to open at any moment without the use of keys, tools, or specific knowledge.
  • It is necessary to ensure that the solution not only addresses the security of institutions but is also critical that personnel have confidence in their ability to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
  • Locking fire exit doors often need to ensure compliance with local and national fire codes and regulations. You also need to prove the potentiality for unauthorized access to the building or areas before locking it.
  • This could create a difficult balancing act between safety, security, and convenience considerations. It is important to consider the potential consequences of each proposed solution and any possible changes that may be needed in order to ensure compliance with fire codes.

Legal Consequences Of Locking Fire Exit Doors

The illegal locking of fire exit doors can have serious legal consequences. Anyone found guilty of deliberately closing a fire escape route can face criminal charges and possible jail time.

Additionally, the individual may be subject to fines or civil damages due to negligence in adhering to safety regulations. The severity of these punishments will depend on the outcome of the incident and the extent of danger incurred.

Furthermore, those responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of public places are legally obligated to ensure that all fire exit doors remain unlocked and accessible at all times.

Failure to do so could result in further charges, including negligence or even endangerment of life. It is crucial that all safety precautions surrounding fire exits are strictly followed in order to prevent avoidable accidents or injuries from occurring.

Balancing Safety With Security

When it comes to fire exit doors, balancing safety and security requires a comprehensive approach.

First, the doors need to be constructed with materials that are able to withstand both fire and forced entry attempts. This includes using heavy-duty metal frames and strong locks that can withstand tampering or breaking.

Second, the doors should be placed in strategic locations to provide adequate access while preventing unauthorized entry into the building. Security cameras can also be installed near the doors to monitor activities at all times and alert personnel in case of any suspicious activity.

Lastly, regular maintenance of the fire exit doors is essential for their proper functioning and durability. This involves inspecting the door hinges, locks, and frames for signs of wear and tear as well as checking if they comply with local building codes.

By following these steps, organizations can ensure that their fire exit doors both provide the necessary level of security while keeping people safe in case of an emergency.

Alternative Solutions Of Locking Fire Exit Doors

When you find the locking of fire exit doors a bit challenging, you can choose any or couple of options from below to secure your exit doors.

Let’s find the Recommended Solutions Instead of Locking Fire Exit Doors:

  1. Install burglar alarm systems with motion sensors at all fire exits.
  2. Place CCTV cameras at every entry and exit point of the building.
  3. Employ a security guard who can be present during working hours to monitor any suspicious activity near the fire exit doors.
  4. Place warning signs that discourage unauthorized access near the fire exit doors and around the building premises.
  5. Set up an access control system in which only authorized personnel can gain entry through the fire exit doors using their key cards or other credentials, such as biometrics or RFID tags.
  6. Make sure that all staff members are aware of emergency evacuation plans and procedures in case of an emergency situation, such as a fire or other emergency requiring immediate evacuation.
  7. Train staff members regularly on safety measures, especially when it comes to using the fire exit doors in an emergency situation.
  8. Conduct regular drills and inspections to ensure that the evacuation plan is properly implemented and followed by all staff members in case of a fire or other emergency situation requiring immediate evacuation.

Recap Of The Above Discussion

In conclusion, the answer to whether fire exit doors can be locked is both yes and no. In public places, fire exit doors should remain unlocked in order to ensure safety and provide an evacuation route in case of emergency.

It is important to note that any locking mechanism must comply with all applicable regulations, including those set forth by the local fire code and building codes.

Additionally, it is always a good idea to have a practice evacuation plan in place before installing any locks on fire exit doors to minimize disruption during an emergency situation.

At the same time, certain types of businesses may require their doors to be locked at certain times for security or other purposes. If this is the case, there are several options available such as panic bars and specialized locking mechanisms that still allow for rapid evacuation when needed.

Ultimately, it is important to make sure that the safety of the occupants is always a priority when determining whether or not you can lock your fire exit doors.

Rate this post