When are Panic Devices required?

The use of Panic Hardware and/or Fire Exit Hardware is required by the International Building Code (IBC) and NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code, depending on which code and which edition of the code is being referenced.

  1. The IBC 2006 and 2009 editions – requires Panic Hardware and/or Fire Exit Hardware on egress doors with an occupant load of 50 people or more in the following occupancies:
      • Educational
      • Assembly Occupancies
      • All High Hazard occupancies (regardless of occupant load)
  2. The IBC 2000 and 2003 editions - requires Panic Hardware and/or Fire Exit Hardware on egress doors with an occupant load of 100 people or more in the following occupancies:
      • Educational
      • Assembly Occupancies
      • Certain High Hazard occupancies (regardless of occupant load)
  3. NFPA 101 – The Life Safety Code has not changed the threshold for occupant load in regard to panic hardware as of the 2009 edition, so the 100 occupant figure still applies to projects where NFPA 101 is being enforced. The requirements for High Hazard occupancies also differ between NFPA 101 and the IBC, so consult the pertinent code for more information.

Other requirements for panic hardware include:

      • The actuating portion of the panic device must be at least half the width of the door.
      • The maximum unlatching force shall not exceed 15 pounds.
      • Panic hardware used on balanced doors must be touchpad type, and the touchpad must not extend more than half the width of the door measured from the latch side.
      • Doors serving electrical rooms with equipment rated 1,200 amperes or more and over 6 feet wide that contain overcurrent devices, switching devices, or control devices with exit access doors.

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