Effects of Codes and Regulations on Hardware

Building codes, NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Windows, and the Life Safety Code promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269, contain many regulations directly affecting the use of builders hardware. Some of these regulations permit tradeoffs in fire protection.
For example, one regulation permits reduction or elimination of compartmentation of large floor areas in exchange for fully sprinklering a building.
Some of the major considerations of such regulations are life safety, security, and handicapped people (see Sec. 3). Life-safety requirements deal primarily with provision of safe egress in emergencies; requirements for disabled people deal with ease of circulation and use of facilities in buildings, and security requirements aim at making both unauthorized ingress and egress difficult. These requirements make conflicting demands on hardware. For example, local security ordinances often conflict with applicable building-code rules and may contain a clause exempting doors within means of egress from security requirements. Such an exemption, however, weakens security, because most doors are within a means of egress. The difficulty of designing or selecting hardware is further exacerbated when provisions for the disabled are superimposed on building-code and security ordinances.
Efforts are being made to find compromise solutions to the conflicting regulations.
In the meantime, design professionals should be especially careful to keep abreast of the latest edition of all codes, regulations, and legislation governing the areas where their buildings are being erected.

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