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Magnetic Locks in licensed premises

Guest David Kitchen

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Guest David Kitchen


Could someone clarify if magnetic locks are or aren't acceptable on final exit doors in licensed premises? BS 7273-4:2015 suggests not but HM Governments Fire Risk Assessment - Large places of Assembly suggests that these are acceptable if risk assessed and that the revert to failsafe if the alarm is activated, a fault occurs or the manual release if activated. Any direction?

British Standard 7273-4:2015 "Code of practice for the operation of fire protection measures – Part 4: Actuation of release mechanism for doors" prescribes that in premises "involving public entertainment or sale of alcohol, the use of electronically operated doors on means of escape is unacceptable to enforcing authorities/bodies".

(p.44, Table B.2).

Edited by Safelincs
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BS 7273-4:2015 says they are unacceptable to enforcing authorities which is debateable, I would check out your local Fire and Rescue Service and check out their stance on this situation, it is the CLG guides ( HM Governments Fire Risk Assessment - Large places of Assembly  ) that is used as a benchmark by the FRS to audit premises.

I will research this further for you and get back later.

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It's up to your Fire Risk Assessment as that determines what is acceptable for the risk, British Standards are not law and whilst useful benchmarks can reasonably be varied from in some situations . The enforcing authorities only have a role where a premises falls below a standard at which there is a threat to safety and there is more than one solution for a particular risk.

Also the stance of authorities varies around the UK and sometimes within the same brigade!

The main issue with mag locks in places of assembly is that they can render a panic proof exit (i.e. fitted with panic bolts so that the pressure alone of a body of occupants, who may be in a panicked state, will automatically release the doors without the need for a positive action, thus preventing crushing and jamming of the doors) not panic proof as if are relying on the positive action of someone knowing about, locating and activating a small green break glass next to the door.

Having said that it could be argued that a Critical Application (Category A as was) compliant locking system linked to the fire alarm has enough redundancy to ensure that the doors will always have the mag lock dropped in an emergency so that the door will remain panic proof when the first set of occupiers reach it. There are what if's though, such as will the fire alarm always activate before people start to leave (depends on your system, equipment and the risks present) and what happens in the event of a non fire incident causing a panic evacuation (large fight, active shooter, bomb threat, etc)

It's for you and your competent risk assessor to come up with justification and consult with the enforcing authority and see if they will go with it. If not, then if you are convinced and can evidence why safety isn't compromised you can apply for a determination by the Secretary of State (which has a fair chance, he doesn't always side with the fire service) it all depends how desperate you are to have mag locks rather than just panic furniture,

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