Fire Door Hardware – An overview of common type

By Rodney Kilpatrick

We are all familiar with the need for doors on escape routes to be quick and easy to open without the need for a key. In most situations this is the case, for instance you simply operate the door handle of the door leading from an office and pass through. In a hotel room you require a key to get in the room but only need to operate the door handle to get out. However the final exit door, usually referred to as a fire escape door of a building usually presents problems because this door requires a higher degree of security and needs to open easily. As the variety of hardware options to suite differing requirements can cause confusion we have tried to explain more fully some of them below.

An important consideration is that these doors only need to be easily open able during the time the premises are occupied and additional security can be added when the premises are vacated. This usually takes the form of barrel bolts, locks and chains but with certain provisos. With barrel bolts the stop which prevents the bolt being withdrawn should be removed so the bolt can be withdrawn. The reason for this is as soon as the premises are occupied all the additional security devices have to be removed or unlocked and the action recorded appropriately. It is up to the Responsible Person to ensure that the devices do not remain in place when the premises are occupied.

Push Bars

Push Bars or Panic Bars are normally fitted to fire exit doors and are identified as a bar running the full width of the door leaf. Push bars are very effective in a panic situation were large number of people are attempting to exit through a door because the bolts will withdraw if minimal pressure is applied to the bar. They are only suitable for doors that open outwards and are only used for emergency exits because they do not allow ingress unless they are opened from the inside. Push bars are available for single and double doors. Where security may be an issue it would be preferable to use a full width panic bar operating 2 bolts, secured top and bottom of the frame. This known as 2 point locking panic bar.

Push Pads

Push pads are similar to push bars but use a small pad as opposed to a long bar and operates a conventional dead lock or rim lock instead of bolts. They are designed for single doors and should only be used in situations where the means of escape is designed for less than 60 persons. This type of device should be accompanied by an additional sign adjacent to the push pad indicating the method of operation. As the pad usually only operates a single latch, these are not recommended in cases where security is an issue. See above.

Redlam Bolts

The Redlam Panic Bolt is an economical solution for turning an external door into an emergency fire exit. Only used for single doors. Breaking the tube results in the bolt sliding back automatically and unlocking the door. Redlam bolts secure the bolt in the closed position originally using a glass tube, but now frangible ceramic tube and spare ceramic tube are available. They are designed for emergency doors which are not in normal every day use and should only be opened for maintenance and testing.

Kingpin Panic Bolt

Kingpin panic bolt is similar to the Redlam bolt and when the handle is pulled, the Kingpin breaks into two pieces, allowing the spring-loaded bolt to retract and thus releasing the door. Both of the broken pieces remain attached to the bolt, thus eliminating any risk of injury.

External Override

An external override is a devise that allows access through a fire exit door from the out-side. As most fire exit doors are designed to be use in emergencies, for security reasons they are designed so that they can only be opened from the inside. In certain cases, for example where shops have large fronted roller shutters there is a need for the first staff in to gain access through another entrance. In this case the rear fire exit door can be fitted with and external override to enable it to be used as a means of entrance or exit as well as a fire exit door.

Steeldoors4u supplies all types of hardware mentioned above. They can also provide advice and guidance on suitability of each type of hardware to suite your particular need.