What is a panic bar and what is an exit device?

by | Feb 29, 2016 | Resource Centre

As long established suppliers and installers of commercial aluminium doors, Capital Windows have fitted thousands of these quality aluminium entrance doors in many different commercial buildings.

In schools, retail parks, hospitals, universities and offices there is always a requirement for a fire exit door.  What you many not know is that there are differences between a panic bar and other exit device.  To help you understand how to order commercial doors with an exit device fitted it is worth having an understanding of the standards and regulations that apply to these types of doors.

Emergency Exit Devices versus Panic Exit Devices.

As with any security device, these are designed to meet specific European or British standards for conformity and type. They will also required to have the appropriate CE Marking.
One of the first things to know is what the key differences are between Emergency Exit Devices and Panic Exit Devices. They are not the same and understanding the differences between the two is actually quite simple.

Standards applicable to Emergency Exit Devices.

BS EN 179 its the standard that applies and covers emergency exit devices. This classifies an emergency exit device as hardware in a building where occupiers are likely to be familiar with the location of emergency exit routes and generally how to exit a building in an emergency situation.  Examples include office buildings with their members of staff, industrial units and similar buildings with frequent users. Therefore in buildings were a panic situation is unlikely to develop these are deemed acceptable.
Suitable panic exit devices include lever handles, escape locks, push to exit paddle handles and other devices designed to retract a latch or rods.

Standards applicable to Panic Bar Devices.

Aluminium-Fire-Exit-Doors-450x600Look at any public building such as a theatre, supermarket, airport, hospital or school and you’ll find designated escape routes.  These escape routes are also clearly marked and identified throughout commercial buildings. In buildings where users are unlikely to be familiar with the exit routes and where a panic situation is likely to occur, panic exit devices should be specified.
Other examples of buildings where panic situations are likely to occur are bars, restaurants, galleries, exhibition centres, concert halls and so forth.  These are buildings that are infrequently visited by the same people and in an emergency situation easy exit is critical. Again the emphasis is people that may not be familiar with the layout of a building and importantly how emergency exit door hardware is likely to operate. Here panic exit devices will be those fitted with a horizontal bar.
With emergency exit devices additional security can be specified. The theory is that most office buildings are generally closed during the night therefore security is important.  With Panic Exit Devices the provision of a safe exit comes before security considerations.  This does not mean that doors are not secure, but that additional locking cannot be provided. This is so anyone that needs to evacuate a building through exit doors is not hindered or delayed by keys, thumb turns or having to decipher how to use the door.

Hardware solutions for commercial doors with exit devices.

The above information is general advice and we recommend that professional advice is sought from Fire Officers or other qualified people or organisations.  As a specifier of commercial doors always see if any specification is attached and as a door installer it is worth establishing how a building is used.
However professional organisations such as The Door and Hardware Federation do recommend that if if doubt, panic bars are the best solution.

Contact your local commercial door specialists.

At Capital Windows we can help you to choose the most suitable hardware for your commercial aluminium doors.  Contact us today or email us your door information and we can help you further. We offer a choice of doors fitted with some of the most trusted brands in panic bars and exit devices such as Axim, Adams Rite and Dorma.