Access Control systems are important for keeping unwanted people from coming into your building and also tracking the access of personnel who are allowed into your building. There are many steps to consider when it comes to buying an access control system, and the one that I will be discussing in this article is how to be compliant in the use of access control and fire doors.
The Office of Compliance in Washington DC states some areas where a Fire Door is needed. Any door that has an exit sign as in the picture above needs to have a fire door. Also, any door that goes into a hallway or a stairwell must also be a fire door. It is important for personnel and visitors to be able to evacuate the area quickly in the event of a fire and that is the reason to have a fire door that swings outward on any exit. If there is a crowd of people, an inward swinging door would not be able to open and everyone will be stuck at the door. Most fire doors will have a push bar as shown in the picture for easy unlocking of a door. But what about the fireman who needs to gain access when the fire door is locked on the outside?
Fail-Safe Electronic Door Locks
A Fail-Safe Electronic Door Lock is what is needed on a fire door for access control so that a fireman can enter the building from the outside to investigate/fight the fire. What happens is that when a fail-safe electronic door lock is connected to an access control panel or standalone reader and is also connected to the fire alarm system, the fire door will automatically unlock when the fire alarm goes off. Also, when the power goes out in the building, those fail-safe locks will also unlock so people aren’t stuck in the building. There are two kinds of fail-safe electronic door locks: Electromagnetic Door Locks and Electric Door Strikes with Fail-Safe option.
Electromagnetic Door Locks (or Mag Locks)
This is an Electromagnetic door lock. It needs to be connected to an access control panel or standalone access control reader in order for it to work. It will be connected to the “normally closed” relay output on the access control panel. It is normally closed because when the connection is closed electricity is being constantly supplied to the mag lock. When electricity is supplied the 2 parts of the lock will shut tightly just like normal magnets do. The MagLock that is shown above can withstand 1200 pounds of force when electrified making it a fantastic lock. On the flip side of a normally closed circuit, when the circuit is open, power will not be supplied to the magnetic lock and so the magnets will release. This will happen when an exit button is pressed, access is granted though an access control reader, when the power goes off or when a fire alarm goes off. That last one is the important feature in fire doors so that fireman can enter when the alarm goes off.
Electronic Door Strikes with Fail-Safe Option
The above picture is an example of an electronic door strike. They come in 2 “Fail” options: Fail-secure and Fail-Safe. Fail-secure is when the power goes off, the lock will stay locked (perfect in non-fire doors that you want to keep secure such as IT rooms and other high security areas.) Fail-Safe, as stated in Electromagnetic Locks will unlock when the power goes off or when a fire alarm goes off. Contrary to how the MagLocks are wired, these electronic door strikes will connect to the “normally open” relay output on the access control panel or access control reader. When there is no power being supplied, the door is locked. When an exit button is clicked or access is granted through a reader, then the electricity is sent to the electronic door strike and the door will unlock. When the fire alarm is triggered on this Fail-safe version of the electronic lock, the door will also release.
Conclusion about Access Control and Fire Doors
It doesn’t really matter if you use an Electronic Door Strike or Electromagnetic Lock in your Access Control Setup for Fire Doors. It is your preference and how you want to install the lock. The important thing to remember is that on a fire door, you need to use a fail-safe device, not fail-secure so that when the fire alarm goes off the door will unlock. Also, another feature about fire doors is that they don’t allow the flow of fire and smoke when closed on interior doors, so it is a fire hazard to keep these doors propped open unless they are held open by a an electromagnetic door opener that will automatically release when the fire alarm goes off. This is not for access control, but for the safety of those inside the building so that the interior fire doors can work properly in “breaking” the flow of hazardous smoke and gasses.
Whichever way you choose in your access control system, we are here to help and guide you. Whether you are putting together access control for 1 door or hundreds of doors, we at securitycameraking.com will provide you with the best solution possible and for you to be compliant. We have UL-listed Electronic locks for government agencies, large companies, and institutions to satisfy your inspections, and for those smaller companies and homes, we have more economically feasible access control devices that are not UL-listed. All of our equipment is backed by a great warranty and free tech support. We provide basic software, wiring diagrams and a wealth of knowledge.
Access control will give you the satisfaction knowing that only registered users can open your doors, and with the right locks in place you will be confident to know, that not only will you pass your fire inspection, but also know that a fireman can do their job in the case of an emergency. Can you imagine if the fireman was locked out of your building during a fire? That would be a catastrophe!