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Emergency Exit Doors For Access Control

May 3, 2023 | Security & Safety

Balancing safety and security is a key priority for any building owner. In order to protect tenants, visitors, and employees, they need emergency exit doors that can be opened with a single motion. At the same time, in order to protect their property, they need to set up access control points to prevent unauthorized entries and exits.

Though these goals sound contradictory, with modern technology they are entirely compatible. Through the use of magnetic and electric locks, emergency exit doors can be used to restrict access to sensitive areas, while simultaneously providing free passage to your staff and ensuring everyone can evacuate during a fire or other disaster.

Magnetic Locks

Magnetic locks have two components: an electromagnet attached to the doorframe and an armature plate attached to the door. When the magnet is charged, it bonds to the plate, locking the door firmly in place. The magnet is connected to a reader that temporarily cuts power whenever it’s activated by an authorized user. Without power, the door unlocks automatically, allowing the user to pass through.

Because magnetic locks are designed to protect people, not spaces, they’re ideal for main entry points, such as lobbies or loading docks. They allow staff to rush out and emergency crews to rush in.

Electric Locks

Electric locks operate similar to a standard lock. A bolt or latch that locks into a strike plate to hold the door closed. In this instance, however, the strike plate is electrically charged. When powered, it retracts the bolt so the door can swing open. Unlike magnetic locks, electric locks are fail-secure devices. Unless activated by an authorized user, they’re always locked, even during a power outage.
In order to comply with safety regulations, electric locks have to be paired with request to exit (REX) devices, such as a push bar, so they can be opened from the inside without an access card or fob, even when the electricity has been cut. For this reason, they are an excellent choice for sensitive areas, such as server rooms, that need to remain off limits at all times. During an emergency, they ensure traffic moves in only one direction: out.

Delayed Egress

While magnetic and electric locks secure emergency exit doors from unauthorized entries, delayed egress doors prevent unauthorized exits. Except during an emergency, these doors remain locked for 15-30 seconds whenever someone tries to push them open. Often, they’re connected to an alarm. So if someone tries to leave through an unauthorized exit, it immediately alerts security or the building manager. In most cases, these doors are installed in warehouses or retail centers, where there is a danger someone might attempt to smuggle items out a side door rather than risk going through the main entrance.

Controlled Egress

Similar to delayed egress doors, controlled egress doors do not unlock automatically except during an emergency. Instead, they remain locked until an authorized user comes and opens them. Controlled egress doors are frequently installed in hospitals and assisted living facilities, where it may be dangerous to let patients wander freely.

Installing Access Control Devices on Emergency Exit Doors

Vortex protects your building and your staff with modern, high-grade doors. We design emergency exits that meet the strictest building standards, but also protect you from thieves and other intruders. Contact us today to keep your employees safe and business secure.

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