The jobs of a commercial locksmith vary day to day, between doing emergency locksmith work such as resolving office lockouts and the standard door installation. One of the most important things they do however is assess risk and safety for commercial properties to be prepared for emergency evacuation. One crucial element in emergency exit strategies is the installation of panic bars, also colloquially known as exit devices or crash bars. These devices play a pivotal role in facilitating swift and efficient egress during emergencies, preventing chaos and ensuring a streamlined evacuation process.
Understanding the Significance of Panic Bars
Panic bars are integral components of commercial building security, designed to provide a quick and easy means of exit during emergencies. Whether it's a fire, natural disaster, or other unforeseen circumstances, panic bars enable occupants to evacuate the premises rapidly without the need for complex maneuvers or the use of keys. The significance of panic bars lies in their ability to prevent bottlenecks at exit points, minimize the risk of injury, and ensure a more organized evacuation process.
Types of Panic Bars
Before diving into the installation process, it's essential to understand the different types of panic bars available in the market.
While terms like "crash bars," "exit devices," or "panic devices" are frequently used interchangeably, it is important to understand that in different contexts, these terms may actually refer to distinct mechanisms. Essentially, exit devices can be categorized into three main types: touch bars, cross bars, and integral devices. Additionally, these can be further divided into four specific types designed for various doors: Rim, Mortise, Surface Vertical Rod, and Concealed Vertical Rod. The selection of a specific type depends on factors such as the door type, the level of security required, and compliance with local building codes. The main types of panic hardware and exit device types include:
Rim Exit Devices:
- Mounted on the surface of the door.
- Suitable for single doors or paired doors with mullions.
Mortise Exit Devices:
- Installed within the door, offering a more discreet appearance.
- Ideal for wooden or metal doors.
Vertical Rod Exit Devices:
- Feature vertical rods that extend into the door frame.
- Suitable for double doors without a mullion.
Surface Vertical Rod Exit Devices:
- Similar to vertical rod devices but mounted on the surface of the door.
- Effective for doors without mullions.
Concealed Vertical Rod Exit Devices:
- Installed within the door, providing a concealed appearance.
- Suitable for double doors without a mullion.
Panic Bar Installation: Key Steps
Now that we understand the significance and types of panic bars, let's delve into the key steps involved in their installation.
Assessment and Planning:
- KeyMe Locksmiths begin by assessing the type of door and its structure.
- Consider the specific requirements of the building and local building codes.
- Plan the installation location, ensuring it provides optimal egress.
Gathering Materials and Tools:
- Acquire the necessary panic bar kit, including the bar, latch, and mounting hardware.
- Gather tools such as a drill, screwdriver, and measuring tape.
Marking and Drilling Holes:
- Mark the locations for the panic bar, latch, and mounting screws on the door.
- Drill holes according to the manufacturer's specifications, ensuring precision.
Mounting the Panic Bar:
- Attach the panic bar to the door using the provided mounting hardware.
- Ensure that the bar is level and securely fastened to the door.
Installing the Latch:
- Place the latch on the door frame, aligning it with the panic bar.
- Securely attach the latch to the door frame using screws.
Testing and Adjustments:
- Test the functionality of the panic bar by applying pressure to the bar.
- Make any necessary adjustments to ensure smooth operation and proper latch engagement.
Panic bar installation is a critical aspect of commercial building safety, and a well-installed exit device such as a panic bar can make a significant difference during emergencies. By understanding the types of panic bars available and following the key installation steps, building owners and facility managers can enhance the overall safety and security of their premises. It's crucial to stay informed about local building codes and regulations to ensure compliance and to regularly inspect and maintain panic bars to guarantee their optimal functionality. Investing in panic bars is not just a matter of compliance; it's a commitment to the well-being of occupants and a proactive approach to emergency preparedness.