Make Sure Your Business' Emergency Exit Doors Are Secure -- And Follow Fire Codes

27 January 2016
 Categories: , Articles

All businesses need to protect their assets from burglars, but theft isn't the only danger they must guard against. When having locks installed on emergency exit doors, companies also need to be cognizant of the potential danger that a building fire presents. Specifically, they should install only one lock on emergency exit doors, and therefore, the lock should be of the highest quality. If you own a business that has a building, here's how to make sure its doors are secure without violating fire codes.

Fire Codes Limit Emergency Exit Doors to One Lock

Most fire codes don't let businesses install multiple locks on emergency exit doors. Because people need to be able to leave the building swiftly in the event of a fire, they must be able to unlock the door quickly -- generally with one motion. Codes typically don't allow two locks on emergency exit doors because the second lock would delay exiting the building. (Specific codes vary from city to city, so you should check the local codes where your business is located.)

Because emergency exit doors can only have one lock, that lock must be the most secure type available, and it needs to be properly installed.

ANSI Grade 1 Deadbolts Provide Protection

Deadbolt locks, which are usually used to secure both residential and commercial exterior doors, are graded into three categories by the American National Standards Institute:

  • Grade 3 deadbolts meet minimum requirements and have the lowest rating
  • Grade 2 deadbolts are the highest-rated residential-only deadbolts
  • Grade 1 deadbolts are the highest rated commercial and residential deadbolts

All of the locks on your company's exterior doors should be Grade 1. While Grade 2 deadbolts might be used in some light commercial settings, they're made more for homes than commercial buildings. Grade 1 deadbolts will give your company much better protection.

Commercial Locksmiths Install Deadbolts Properly

Installing deadbolts might seem simple. After all, contractors regularly install deadbolts on the houses they build, and some homeowners even put in their own locks. If you're investing in a commercial-grade lock, however, a commercial locksmith should install it. There actually are several things to check when installing a deadbolt, and a lock won't be much use if it's improperly installed.

A commercial locksmith will know to make sure that the lock's properly installed by checking the following:

  • there should be at least a 1-inch throw, meaning the bolt should go at least 1 inch into the door jam
  • a security plat should be installed on the "strike side" of the lock, which is the side a burglar might attempt to smash in with brute force
  • if there is glass near the lock that could be broken, the deadbolt should be a double-cylinder model that requires a key from either side

Commercial Locksmiths Might Recommend Additional Precautions

Depending on the location of your business' emergency exit door, a commercial locksmith might have some additional ideas on how to keep your business secure. For example, you might want to

  • install a motion-activated security system near the door
  • connect the deadbolt to a local alarm that goes off when the door's opened
  • use a locking bar that's opened by with a single push from the inside but can't be opened from the outside

Because commercial locksmiths work with many businesses near your company, they'll be familiar with the level of risk and how other businesses in the area are keeping their buildings secure. While some of these suggestions fall outside of a commercial locksmith's direct training, they're one of the best resources to discuss additional security measures with -- and they can probably refer you to others who can help with the things they don't install, such as security systems.

If you own a business, talk with a commercial locksmith on how best to keep your business' emergency exit doors secure. They'll be able to recommend and install a lock -- and make sure it doesn't violate local fire codes. To get in touch with a commercial locksmith service, click this link.