Why Panic Bars are Crucial for Commercial Property Safety

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Panic bars save lives by assisting with the swift and safe evacuation of multiple people leaving a building all at once. For fires and other emergencies that may require workers and occupants to exit quickly, panic bars are door handles that make these kinds of quick exits possible.

Panic bars are also known as crash bars and you have likely seen them in commercial or business buildings before. Any space that is of a certain size is required to have panic bars installed on exit doors and doors that may be used for emergency escapes. They come in a couple of different styles, but always sit horizontally across doors and use a push bar of some sort to open. They can be used on interior doors in office buildings, for example, and may be mandatory in this case if a meeting room is of a certain size. Panic bars are also often connected to fire and other alarm systems to sound if they are placed on emergency exit doors.

In the event of an emergency, panic bars allow doors to open quickly and easily. They help prevent build-up that can occur when lots of people are exiting at once. Without them, crowd stampedes are more likely to occur and those who are attempting to escape may be crushed. Panic bars are a necessary safety component and all building owners should be aware of the laws regulating their installations, as well as why they are so important.

Why Panic Bars are Mandatory

There is a tragic history behind why panic bars are mandatory. Three particular incidents led to the implementation of building safety codes and other laws. The first event occurred in the United Kingdom in 1883 and is known as the Victoria Hall Stampede. During a performance in the concert hall, 1,100 children were informed that prizes would be awarded to a certain number of children upon exiting. Once the performance was over, the children ran towards the downstairs exit. The door at the bottom of the stairs opened inward and was bolted in such a way that only allowed one child to pass through at a time. This ultimately led to a stampede and the death of 183 children. After the Victoria Hall Stampede, the British Government starting enforcing mandatory building safety standards, including doors that open outward and a certain number of exits on every building.

The next two tragedies that led to the creation of panic bar laws occurred in the United States. Not long after the Victoria Hall Disaster, in Chicago, Illinois in 1903 the Iroquois Theatre fire claimed over 600 lives. The accident was the result of a theater curtain that had caught fire and extreme overcrowding in the theater. As those in the theater rushed towards the theater’s only exit, panic ensued. The holding capacity for the theater was 1,600 and many in attendance speculated that upwards of 2,000 people may have been present. The accident helped shape new occupancy laws for buildings and public spaces, as well as a mandatory number of exits.

The final event to influence the overhaul of building safety code laws, especially in the United States, was the Collinwood School Fire. The school only had only two fire exits and the front door was quickly blocked by the fire almost immediately. As students and faculty rushed towards the only exits, similar outcomes occurred as in the first two disasters and more than half the students in the school lost their lives, in addition to two faculty members.

Do Not Skip Panic Bars

Now that you have learned about the history of panic bars, you understand the importance of their presence in larger buildings and public spaces. Panic bars are small, but necessary features needed during evacuations and emergencies. To prevent stampedes, overcrowding, and even the death of those who work in or enter into a given building, panic bars are a necessity. Countless deaths have been prevented worldwide during evacuations thanks to the invention of panic bars and other regulations that help protect building occupants.

If you are a commercial building owner and need panic bars installed or are unsure whether or not you need them, contact a locksmith. A local locksmith in your area can help advise you on installing panic bars for your commercial building, as well as ensure that your business meets all necessary safety and fire code standards. Locksmith assistance is usually required for panic bar installations, so work with alocksmith in your area that you can trust that has experience with building safety and panic bars. Do not skip out on making sure your panic bars are properly installed and work as they are intended to. Panic bars save lives and help ease panic during emergencies, fires, and evacuations where lots of people must exit at once.

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