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October  2004

AAMA Analysis

News Events Highlight Door 
Hardware's Role in Safety

by Dean Lewis

In the space of four days in late February, 2003, 121 people were killed in separate tragedies involving stampeding crowds at nightclubs and what appear to be inadequate or improperly maintained emergency exit provisions. In the first incident, on February 17, an estimated 1,500 people were inside Chicago’s E2 dance club when a fight broke out and someone discharged pepper spray. In the ensuing melee, club goers rushed down a staircase leading to the front door and many were trampled or crushed, resulting in 21 deaths. This calamity was soon overshadowed when, on February 20, fire spread from a rock band’s pyrotechnics display and engulfed a Rhode Island nightclub, killing 100 people and injuring more than 200. In both cases, exits were either inadequate for the crowd or alternate exits or fire doors were locked.

Industry Works Together 
These tragic events have given rise to a new industry collaboration that seeks to improve life safety and property protection by developing, through existing code bodies, mandatory requirements for regular inspection of fire-rated windows and doors in the path of egress. The focus of the group’s efforts will be to ensure that fire doors and their hardware components continue to provide intended fire protection after installation, and that egress doors and associated hardware are not adversely modified or blocked so as to impede egress after installation.

Known as the Door Safety Council, the group is spearheaded by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and includes AAMA, the Door Hardware Institute (DHI), Intertek Testing Services, the Steel Door Institute, Underwriters Laboratories and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association.
In addition to developing and working for the enactment and enforcement of appropriate code language, the group seeks to provide communications and training materials to create awareness for door inspection among fire marshals, building owners/facility executives, architects and specifiers and insurance professionals. 
Ingress is as Critical as Egress

In this post-9/11 world, building security-formerly more of a preventive measure against theft and vandalism-takes on vastly greater importance, with life-or-death overtones not unlike those of provisions for safety and emergency egress. Consequently, AAMA is one of several industry associations banding together with DHI in a presidential commission on security to “improve safety and security of buildings by the proper application of door products, both electrified and mechanical.”

The group will focus on code initiatives to establish security product application standards, internal industry education, certification for Electrified Hardware Consultants that will help move the door hardware industry into the security field and development of alliances within the industry to foster better security practices. 

New Door Standards
Meanwhile, the latest effort to harmonize U.S. and Canadian performance standards for windows, doors and skylights is 101/I.S. 2/A440 which will be the successor to 101/I.S. 2/NAFS-02 and includes a new specification for exterior side-hinged doors.

This specification is the first all-encompassing standard for rating such products and will likely lead to a certification program. While providing for the usual aspects of air leakage and structural performance requirements, it introduces a new “limited water” rating concept for water leakage and references four new AAMA standards governing operating cycle performance, vertical load resistance, forced entry resistance, and hardware load and water penetration resistance.

Copies of the 101I.S. 2/A440 are scheduled for publication distribution before the end of the year. 

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