What is the difference between Panic Hardware and Fire Exit Hardware?

Panic Hardware and Fire Exit Hardware are two different types of exit devices, and the proper selection is determined by code requirements.

  • Panic Hardware is an exit device which is tested for use on a door that is required to have panic hardware, but cannot be used on a fire door.  Panic hardware typically has the dogging feature, which allows the latches to be held retracted to create a push/pull function. 
  • Fire Exit Hardware is an exit device which is tested for both panic and fire conditions and is required to be used on fire doors where panic hardware is required by code or desired for durability.  Since fire doors require positive-latching, fire exit hardware does not incorporate mechanical dogging.  If a push/pull function is desired for a fire door, electric latch retraction hardware may be installed, as long as the latch projects automatically upon fire alarm. 

 The International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code contain similar requirements for locations where panic hardware is installed:

  1. Panic hardware shall be listed in accordance with UL 305;
  2. Fire exit hardware shall be listed in accordance with UL 10C and UL 305;
  3. The actuating portion of the releasing device shall extend at least one-half of the door leaf width; and
  4. The maximum unlatching force shall not exceed 15 pounds (67 N).
  5. If balanced doors are used and panic hardware is required, the panic hardware shall be the push-pad type and the pad shall not extend more than one-half the width of the door measured from the latch side.

 Depending on how exit devices are ordered, Von Duprin and Falcon-Monarch  exits are supplied as either Panic Hardware or Fire Exit Hardware. These devices are factory labeled as either:

  • Panic Hardware
  • Fire Exit Hardware
The most obvious difference (in the device) is the lack of mechanical dogging on a Fire Rated Device.  There are some internal parts that may be different and the method it is secured to the door may vary.  Each specific device has different factors.

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