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Access-controlled egress doors: The tension between security and life safety

Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, December 1, 2017

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Knowing when egress doors can be locked or latched requires a careful review of LSC

If a fire breaks out in your facility, anyone fleeing the flames—patients, staff, and visitors alike—should be able to evacuate without being stopped or unduly slowed down by a door. That’s why healthcare facilities are generally required to ensure that their egress doors are free from locks that require a tool or key to open. But there are, of course, exceptions.

Those exceptions are outlined in the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code® (LSC), which CMS adopted last year. Only in these limited circumstances are healthcare occupancies permitted to use door locks to impede egress. So review your required egress routes to ensure that each and every egress door is fully compliant. Keep in mind, meanwhile, that security and safe exit routes are often competing goals.

“Ensuring egress doors are not compromised needs to be top priority,” Gregory Harrington, PE, a principal engineer for the NFPA, told the NFPA Journal earlier this year. “Don’t be misled into thinking that security takes precedence over life safety.”

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Healthcare Life Safety Compliance.