Panic Hardware Basics: How To Properly Use A Panic Device

Panic Hardware Basics: How To Properly Use A Panic Device
March 6, 2020 Edwin Deponte
In Post

Typically found on hallway doors where fire requirements compartmentalize and separate areas to aid in smoke, fire, and heat control of a commercial building is a panic device. A panic device is a door component designed to allow fast and burdenless exit. Basically, panic hardware is a door’s safety component, more commonly found in places where heavy foot and door traffic happen most such as shopping malls, movie theaters, and exclusive residential properties.

Panic devices prevent people from getting stuck in cases of a commotion, stampede, and suffocation from fire. In most countries, it is part of the safety precautions that safety inspectors look at establishments where a lot of people commonly go to. It helps in preventing further accidents that may occur to moving people exiting buildings during emergency situations.

If you are constructing your own building and you want to make it safe, then having a panic device is necessary. Learn how to properly use a panic device with these panic hardware basics.


A panic device has certain specifications to meet and should be installed on certain types of buildings. Here are the main ones to consider:

  • The crossbar or the touchpad part must span at least half the width of each door. On balanced doors where the pivot point is closer to its center, a push-pad panic device is needed and must not span more than half the door’s width.
  • It must be mounted at a certain height between 34 and 48 inches above the building floor
  • No other locking devices can be used on exit doors with panic hardware.
  • It must not require than 15 pounds of force to unlatch it.
  • It should have delayed and controlled egress exit points.
  • Panic bars installed on fire exits should be certified fire hardware.
  • Some codes require that panic hardware is tested for resistance in case of hurricanes. Codes pertains to the required panic hardware egress mandated by law depending on how frequent the door will be used on average and on what building is it on.

Types of Buildings That Need Panic Hardware

Panic bars are required in facilities intended for assembly, educational, or high-hazard activities. The International Building Code (IBC) are calling for panic hardware on buildings with an occupancy of 50 people or more, while fire protection agencies want it on buildings that can hold 100 people or more. On high hazard facilities like warehouses and plants, it has to have panic hardware regardless of how many people it can hold.

Types of Doors It Can Be Equipped On

Panic hardware can be used on single and a pair of doors. They are used in combination with free, controlled, and delayed egress. Most buildings need at least a couple of exit doors equipped with panic hardware installed.

Types of Locks That Can Utilize

Crossbars and touchpad style panic hardware work with a wide variety of lock types such as automatic locks and electrified locks. It can be used with both fail-safe and fail-secure locks.

In summary, the basics of using a panic device are: follow the mandated requirements and determine what building, door, and lock are you going to use it with. A simple tool can keep hundreds of people safe, so make the right choice and install a panic device on your doors now.

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