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Building Regs - Electronic Locks


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Please could you help me with clarifying the statement in Statutory Guidance, Fire Safety: Approved Document B Volume 2 Section 5.11?

Reading the section on Electrically powered locks, it doesn't say if all 3 conditions need to be met for compliance, or if it's any of the 3.


Electrically powered locks should return to the unlocked position:

                a. on operation of the fire alarm system;

                b. on loss of power or system error;

                c. on activation of a manual door release unit.

I'm interested to find out if the legal requirement is A and B and C, or A or B or C.  The guidance isn't clear.

Thank you!

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I'm not a fire safety officer but its clear to me that all 3 must be met.  If I was locked in a building and either the fire alarm actuated, there was a power cut or I wanted to manually release the door then I would hope I would get out in the event of a fire! 

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Thanks Noddy.

Common sense says your view is correct!  (It's mine too).

My issue with the document is that it doesn't state that all 3 must be met and I can read it with "and" or "or" between each line.

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I don't know the current legality, but when I was a fire engineer about 20 years ago all 3 would have to be met, can't see any reason that that this would have changed.

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It is possible for alternative arrangements- particularly for final exits - but any variation from the 3 stage approach much be justified by a full risk assessment.

Consider an office block with say 3 final exits. Everyone leaves by 8pm and the cleaners lock up as they go.

The fire alarm sounds at midnight and all three final exits release automatically. The building is now totally insecure. Not many businesses would agree to that

Just by blowing smoke under a door, access could be made from outside??? Nope, not acceptable. Similarly, if cutting power made a building insecure, not a business in the world would touch it.

In those cases, a locked door with an override only is acceptable. Mitigation to allow the variation may include addition testing of the green break glass unit or electronic push bar furniture.

Even inside buildings where security is paramount, a single stage system is possible if it can be justified.

Think about banks, data centres or forensic mental health units. It's not possible for a one size fits all approach 

It's worth noting that other than the functional requirements sections of ADB, (the shaded in paragraphs at the beginning of B1, B2 etc), ADBs provisions are not mandatory/law. All the drawings and information is there as guidance and best practice. You can vary from that advice if justifiable.

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Thank you all for your replies.  Useful and informative.

So the upshot is, you can do what you like as long as it's justified in a risk assessment?

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Er, I am not sure I would agree with that statement as a pick and mix as you want is not an option.

The approved standards (ADB and British standards - BSI ) are best practice. That is the default that one should attempt to achieve.

If you are not going to apply best practice you must justify with a business case (this prison can't have a push bar fire exit) or by showing you are achieving that best practice by another route, or showing how you will mitigate any risks you create by not following the accepted route.

Are you still with me?? ?

I did a risk assessment in a poncey boutique in the West end.  They had a uniform colour scheme on the shop floor and wanted to paint their extinguishers or get rid of them.

To cut a long story short, I justified a decision to paint the extinguishers army green. The strategy was always that staff only would be using them and they would have 6 monthly training sessions.

The EU coloured label would remain showing and a 100mm long piece of 2x2 timber - painted red - would hang from a pelmet running around the entire shop at around 4m off the floor level. Staff training would include an instruction to look for the 'Red Peg' to find the nearest extinguisher underneath.

None of this complies with British standard but IMO gives an equivalent suitable measure.

But playing with the extinguisher identification standards and messing about with standards that apply to ensure you don't get a stack of dead bodies behind a locked door are two different things altogether.

Would 'your' justification stand up to scrutiny in court? That's what you have to consider. You have to be 100% sure - at least!- or don't go there 

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You must be able to escape through the final escape door in a single action quickly thats understood by someone not familiar with the building is the starter for 10 for normal public buildings.

You could come up with unlimited scenarios as different types of buildings, activities, security requirements etc. would have a different outcomes which all would have to be risk assessed.  A full fire risk assessment would need to be carried out with justifications of how you will get people to safety. Its a bit dark for us at the moment because we do not know what the building is you are refering to, or what the risks / use of the building is and how the building is risk assessed to complete The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 risk assessment document the building should have.

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Thanks all.

@MessyShaw - understood! So it's if/how modifications can meet best practice by way of the risk assessment.

@StephenKP - thanks. I'll ask for a copy of the risk assessment document as I assume it's been completed by now.

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  • 11 months later...

Evening, I know this is a bit late but I’ve only joined tonight, the requirement for releasing electronic doors is BS7273, this document explains the requirements of releasing different categories of doors 👍

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