Today we’d like to talk about fire safety and egress points, specifically doors with magnetic locks. Mag lock doors are (usually) exterior doors that have magnetic locking hardware, whereby an electromagnetic current is passed between the device on the door and that on the door frame, thus creating a locking action.
Mag locks don’t interact with the levers or knobs on a door, which means that if the magnetic lock is active, pushing a door strike or turning a door knob will not open the door. This is why Life Safety Code requires that any door with a mag lock also needs distinct additional ways to break the power (and thus open the door) in the event of an emergency. These include:
- a passive infrared motion sensor (drops power to the magnetic lock whenever motion is observed)
- an egress button (a button that can be pushed to immediately break power to the magnetic lock in an emergency)
- a fire alarm relay ( if a fire alarm is triggered the relay will drop power to the magnetic lock)
The National Fire Protection Association instructs facility managers or those people in charge of security that the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is the final authority on whether your fire, life, and electrical safety programs are up to code. The AHJ differs by state, area, type of facility, etc. and may be your local fire chief, labor department, state department, or other organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.
Mag locks are great security measures; with that said, it’s important that if you have them in your facility, that you have redundant measures that allow for free egress in an emergency.