If you have ever heard of an “exit device,” “panic hardware,” a “push bar,” “panic bar,” or “crash bar,” all of these terms mean the same thing when it comes to door security. They refer to a device that allows the occupants of a building to unlock a particular door, exiting to the outside quickly during an emergency. It typically will feature a horizontal or vertical bar for the user to push on, as well as a push pad that will release the locking mechanism of the door with a single action.
Allowing the user to push on the door, rather than twist a doorknob or pull up or down on a lever, allows for easier and faster access. It also ensures that individuals who are physically incapable of producing the movements necessary for opening levers or doorknobs are not stranded inside the building during an emergency. This makes a crash bar invaluable and oftentimes mandatory for use in hospitals, nursing homes, other healthcare facilities, and large residential buildings. However, a variety of business, educational, government, and military facilities use them as well. In fact, many public buildings will not pass inspection if they do not utilize panic bars.
Features of a Crash Bar
A crash bar can be installed on wood, metal, and aluminum frame doors that open to the outside, with many models offering a variety of security and electronic features. Many come with their own high-decibel alarms; these alarms can be used to stop people from exiting the building, or to alert management if the door has been opened unexpectedly. This feature is especially useful in retail stores and restaurants, where an occupant may be tempted to try to quickly run out of the back of the building carrying stolen merchandise, or skip out on paying a tab.
Fire rated crash bars are used on fire rated doors. In general, many interior doors that require crash bars are fire rated, and most exterior doors are non-fire-rated. In addition to these ratings, crash bars are available in several styles and price points to help meet the needs and budget of your business or organization. The number of panic bars you may need and the features that they will require will depend on a few different factors, including the occupancy level and square footage of the building, as well as the number of stories the building has.
Installing a Crash Bar
It is possible to order a crash bar from a supplier and have it shipped directly to you for self-installation, but unless you are a professional locksmith, this idea is thoroughly discouraged. A crash bar is an extremely important piece of hardware; improperly installed, you risk the lives of those within your building. Recognize that at the time the crash bar will be most necessary for the safety of your occupants, these occupants may be panicking or running, and they will depend on that crash bar to work at the exact instant they push on it. Please do not install your own crash bar; leave this project up to the professionals. Contact a reputable, knowledgeable locksmith who is highly experienced in selecting and installing crash bars to assist you.