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Night Latch on Fire Exit Door


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At a local licensed entertainment venue (up to 250 standing), at the end of a show, I made my way along with other customers, to a fire exit door.

Several people in front of me could not figure out how to open the interior lock on the exit door, it was a night latch with no rotary knob but a pull lever fitted to the inner edge. I intervened and opened the door and we exited the building. The female customers joked that once again a man was required to show them how it worked.

Although this may have seemed humorous at the time, in hindsight it was an alarming incident.

If this had been a true emergency exit of the building, valuable time could be lost trying to open the door, particularly when alcohol affects the judgement and problem solving skills of those involved.

Surely for a venue with this capacity all the exit doors should be secured with push type bars or pads.

Is it permitted to have a night latch fitted to a signed exit door?

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Its usual practice for such a venue for the door to open in the direction of escape (in this case, outwards). Night latches are usually fitted to inward opening doors.  Can you confirm the direction of opening?

As for panic bolts (push bar) , they are advisable when 60 plus persons are likely to use a given exit and especially where they might arrive simultaneously 

Older buildings where architectural features do not allow outward opening doors etc have to consider an alternative management system. This is usually discussed in the premises fire risk assessment. 

Where alcohol is served, the risk is higher due to impaired cognitive skills, so licensed premises are generally treated very carefully

Is it right? Its impossible to be certain without seeing it. But it does ring a few alarm bells.

If you have doubts, contact the local licensing authority or failing that, the local fire service. You can remain anonymous with the latter

Good luck

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