Code Compliance Another Key to Proper Access Control System

  October 30, 2015

Installing a new access control system poses special challenges. For one thing, mistakes in this area are so visible to so many people. For another, a new system needs to secure the building, yet still allow occupants to move about as needed. As facility managers work to choose, design, and install this system, here is the second of five pitfalls they’ll want to avoid:

Overlooking code compliance. "Inattention to building codes, in my experience, is the number one cause of major delays, cost overruns, and extended security lapses on access control system installation projects," says Ken George, president of Caprock Consulting Group.

To be sure, code compliance often becomes complicated, as it requires access control systems to balance concerns about fire safety, and the need to ensure that individuals can quickly exit a building when necessary, with the need to thwart access to individuals who shouldn't be in a facility in the first place.

In high-rises, for instance, codes typically require stairwell doors to be positive-latching. That is, they need to mechanically latch into the door frame and not simply swing free into the stairwell when pressure is applied on the inside of the door. That way, if a fire burns inside the space, the pressure created by the heat won't push open the door, allowing smoke and other contaminants into the stairwell, George says. In addition, fire codes usually require doors to unlock automatically when a fire alarm is activated, and exiting through the doors can't require more than one motion.

If these requirements are not identified and addressed early in the design process, the effort to meet them "can be catastrophic to the schedule and budget," George says. Even if a code inspector looks the other way, the liability doesn't disappear. "If there were ever a fire or other event and people couldn't get out of the building, the building owner or manager would be legally liable," he notes.

Today’s tip comes from Karen Kroll.

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