Roy Buckingham, Specification and Development Manager for Abloy UK – South West, discusses regulatory compliance in his first blog for Infologue.com. He writes: “With an average of 162 building fires in Great Britain every day resulting in more than 9,100 fatalities or casualties from fires in 2013-14, there is a desperate need for quality access control systems that allow for swift and easy egress in the event of an emergency.
“In 2014, the London Fire Brigade reported that over the previous three years there had been three deaths and 36 people injured in fires in the capital where fire doors had been replaced, left open or incorrectly fitted. This highlights the issue of compliance, and the fact that basic standards are not being adhered to.
“It’s vital that each party – whether an architect, specifier, facilities manager or installer – takes responsibility for ensuring the correct compliant systems are in place to guarantee safe egress for the occupants of a building. However, it is also vital that adequate measures are in place to ensure the required level of security too, without compromising emergency escape routes.
“There are a number of building regulation standards in place to ensure safety for those in a public building. These include EN179 Emergency Escape (for when the building occupants are aware of the building environment), EN1125 Panic Escape (for environments used by the general public) and the new standard EN13637 Electronically Controlled Escape Systems (for use on escape routes).
“These standards state that even if a door is electronically controlled for access there must be a compliant mechanical means of escape in an emergency. In the case of fire doors, this is essential to provide fire protection, compartmentalise a building, and protect the escape routes. This is also a critical function in a terror situation too – offering the ability to shut off certain areas to terrorists and allow egress or access to ensure the safety of the public.
“A CE mark should also be present on locking devices, confirming they comply with EU legislation. It is now a legal requirement for manufacturers of construction products in the UK to apply CE marking to items that are covered by harmonised European Norms (hEN). A CE mark shows that the minimum performance requirements of the product have been met, however it is not always a sign of high quality. Alongside the CE mark, a Declaration of Performance (DoP) document has to be made available to the customer upon request.
“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 escape doors the scope concerns life safety.
“There are safety advantages to be gained by opting for an electric locking system – such as a motorised or solenoid lock – rather than choosing an alternative solution such as a door magnet. This is because there can be fire risks associated with installing a magnet on a door which is used as a fire escape, as they require special arrangements in order to guarantee they are fail-safe at all times in the event of an emergency. For example, some door magnets require an alarm or ‘request to exit’ mechanism to allow someone to exit, so there could be delays for people needing swift egress in an emergency situation.
“In addition, motorised and solenoid solutions satisfy the needs of both fire doors and emergency and panic situations where a mechanical means of escape is required. Motorised locks are also ideal for emergency exits as they do not require a handle externally – which can be the most vulnerable part of a door – making them a hands-free solution. This can improve the flow of people, which is especially useful when a swift and smooth exit is needed.
“The Abloy range of electric locks includes motor and solenoid locks, which are the most effective forms of electric locking, and also ensure compliance to the mandatory fire and escape standards. Solenoid locks, like the Abloy EL560, work by controlling the handle, and are suitable for internal doors of public buildings, offices, schools or hospitals, and external doors of apartments and detached houses. Motorised locks, like the Abloy EL520, work by drawing the bolt back once a proximity card or device is presented. Both locks automatically secure a deadbolt upon closing, and can be used with escape mechanisms as appropriate to the environment and application.
“When it comes to complete compliant solutions, Abloy UK also offers the Abloy Door, a door-set that features a lock, lever, cylinder, and panic option, and is LPS 1175 SR2 certified by the Loss Prevention Council Board (LPCB).
“The Abloy Door boasts an EL160 Mechanical Lock Case with automatic deadlocking, Lever Handle Set, PROTEC2 Euro Profile Cylinder, and Panic Bar. Products certified to the LPCB’s LPS 1175 SR2 standard provide 3 minutes of resistance to determined attack by an opportunist burglar using a range of techniques including those that involve creation of noise.
“So with a number of compliant and secure solutions available, there should be no reason why the safety of a building’s occupants should be compromised by the emergency exit systems in place. By specifying and installing compliant access control systems, we may be able to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities cause by fire”.
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