While security and safety experts often preach calm in the event of an emergency, normally what occurs is anything but. In fact, in the event of an emergency situation where a building needs to be evacuated quickly, any drills or prior evacuation training tends to become an afterthought as people scramble to depart facilities as quickly as possible. Any emergency evacuation impacts the security risk with security professionals often serving as fire marshals or coordinators to help streamline this prompt departure from a facility.
While a smooth, orderly evacuation is the goal, oftentimes what happens is anything but – and not just as it pertains to how people go about handling an emergency situation, but how the security system operates as well. All doors on emergency routes are required to provide free egress and some will be linked to the fire alarm system and fail-safe and remain in this mode until the entire system is reset. This can pose some significant problems in high-risk areas within the building that are restricted. It must also be considered that security systems are impacted by two regulations that dictate the operation and requirements of emergency route doors. In this post, we’ll examine how these regulations – EN 179 and EN 1215 – influence building security and what security professionals can do to ensure that they’re keeping building escape routes secure should the unthinkable happen.
About EN 179 and EN 1125
Let’s start by taking a closer look at EN 179 and EN 1125, what they dictate and how they influence controlled emergency escape routes.
EN 179: Emergency Exit Devices
This regulation states that emergency exit devices must be used in situations that people are familiar with. Essentially, the regulation wants to ensure that every individual knows how to evacuate safely and effectively with a simple operation such as a level handle or push pad to release a door or point of exit. When individuals know how to properly utilise an exit device, panic is far less likely to occur, making way for a more orderly evacuation.
EN 1125: Panic Exit Devices
Building security is important, but so too is a safe evacuation in the event of an emergency – and a safe exit is what this regulation aims to address. Specifically, it calls for exits in public buildings to be fitted with panic devices that can be triggered by a horizontal bar to further implement safe, effective and orderly evacuation in an emergency. This standard also aims to ensure this safe and orderly exit easily, with minimal effort and no prior experience or training.
How to Secure Emergency Routes
So what can be done to secure emergency routes and comply with the aforementioned EN 179 and EN 1125 standards? Here’s a look at some strategies that can be implemented to ensure both safe, orderly evacuation as well as compliance:
- Motorised locks: Motorised locks that fail-safe or allow mechanical override for egress but secure once closed from the unsecured side is one solution. These locking mechanisms allow for a more orderly fashion from the building, while still ensuring that the facility remains secure from the outside.
- Break glass units: Permitting greater control of these break glass units can allow individuals to override doors but give the security team a point to intervene if required.
- Video analytics: CCTV and video analytics can help ensure that individuals inside of a building are flowing to evacuation points in the same direction. They can also help determine if someone is not moving with the flow or not moving at all. This type of analysis can be a helpful tool for security and safety professionals.
- Flexible and manageable emergency routes: While planning for a controlled lockdown or invacuation is now a normal consideration for many buildings, controlling the evacuation through flexible and managed emergency routes can be a bit more of a challenge for security professionals, although it’s not out of the question. Controlled lockdowns involve securing the building or specific areas when there is an external risk to protect the building occupants. Invacuation is the practice of developing safe areas within a building to minimise the impact of external risk. Establishing flexible and streamlined emergency routes to evacuate occupants from a lockdown, invacuation or, for instance, if something were to happen in a certain part of the building ensures that evacuations would not proceed through that particular area. Such a strategy would aim to keep building occupants safe and removed from the threat within the building or a particular area where evacuation would lead to the actual risk.
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