Push to Exit

I am done trying to explain to these people how the sensor located about the double doors in the lobby of the International Towers apartment building in downtown Youngstown controls WHEN the push bar handle is allowed to open the door to exit during the hours the door is locked, that they need to install a manual unlocking device to bring the door up to code.

We have been going round and round about it ever since I discovered the problem on January 4th, when the sensor failed to “see” me as I tried to exit the building when the door was locked.  The next day, I talked to the building manager and she said that she would have maintenance look at it.

After days passed and a test of the doors proved that the problem was not resolved, I wrote a letter about it and hand delivered it to the office.  She argued with me, insisted the sensor does NOT control egress (exit) and claimed that the push bar handle IS the manual unlocking device, it must be a handle problem, so she would have maintenance look at it.

I feel like they think I’m stupid. No one else has complained… it’s just me… I’m the only one with a problem… she has never noticed anyone waving at the sensor on the security cameras, it does not work that way, et cetera. When she told me the sensor cannot be controlling the door handle because the sensor cannot “see” people in wheelchairs because they are lower to the ground, it was all I could do to keep from slapping myself in the forehead with a “DUH!”

I can imagine Webster’s reaction to such logic… he taught “Sensors R Us” (not the official course name) at the Salem campus of KSU years ago. So what if I am the only tenant who knows that having an access-controlled egress door without a manual unlocking device is a serious safety violation. That does not mean the problem doesn’t exist… it just means that I may be the only tenant here whose background includes a tech degree in electrical/electronic engineering. The sensor has failed to “see” other tenants at night when the door is locked, even the security guard knows the sensor controls when people are allowed to exit this building. To them, it is just a little glitch, so move around until the light turns green and try again.

Maintenance did take a look at the door. They found ice somewhere on the door frame and concluded that the door must have “stuck” on me due to ice, that the door had froze shut.


Why am I smacking myself in the forehead? I should smack theirs like a TV evangelist and declare them healed from techie ignorance, but the only thing that would accomplish is to get myself evicted and arrested for simple assault.

So, okay… they fixed the problem by removing ice and argue down anything I say so, fine…  told the staff member that I will wait until night when the doors are locked and test the doors again.

TEST #2:

On January 20, 2015 just before 10:30pm, with three witnesses:

  • I was able to approach the doors without triggering the sensor.
  • While the sensor light was RED, I pushed on the door handle to exit. It would NOT open.
  • Then I waved my hand at the sensor (instead of just moving my body) until it “saw” me.
  • While the sensor light was GREEN, I pushed on the door handle to exit. It easily opened.
  • To conclude the test, I waved at the security camera.


  • The door was locked, not stuck by ice or anything.
  • The door handle push bar does manually open the door.
  • The sensor controls WHEN the handle is ALLOWED to open the door.
  • The door IS an access-controlled egress.
  • There is NO manual way to open the door to exit when it is locked at night.
  • The problem is NOT resolved.
  • A manual unlocking device needs to be installed per Ohio code.

Is code compliance is too much to ask?

All I want is a gadget… a manual unlocking device as specified in Ohio code 1008.1.4.4 (c) which states “the doors shall be arranged to unlock from a manual unlocking device located 40 inches to 48 inches vertically above the floor and within 5 feet of the secured doors. Ready access shall be provided to the manual unlocking device and the device shall be clearly identified by a sign that reads “PUSH TO EXIT.” When operated, the manual unlocking device shall result in a direct interruption of power to the lock – independent of the access control system electronics – and the door shall remain unlocked for a minimum of 30 seconds.”

The problem is, they think that the push bar handle IS the manual unlocking device.  They refuse to acknowledge that their sensor system does not work the way they think it does.

I raised the issue as a question when Youngstown’s Chief Fire Inspector Marcia Harris was here for our fire safety meeting and an IT staff member quickly shot me down with the ice story and the fact that I am the only one who complains, going on about the need to control who comes into the building at night, which is not the issue at all. After the meeting, the inspector was flanked by IT staff in the hallway and there was too many people trying to exit the room, so I did not get a chance to talk to her. I was hoping to ask her if she could explain to these people that you cannot have a sensor control when a “manual unlocking device” is allowed to work.

Should I write Ms. Harris a letter?

I’m done trying to explain it… they must think I’m stupid, just another dumb disabled person so fine… I will pack my own “manual unlocking device” in my evacuation bag so I can use it if the sensor fails to unlock the door in the event of an emergency, although odds are that another tenant will beat me to it with a chair or cane or anything else they can get their hands on.

Manual Unlocking Device

Manual Unlocking Device

After all, the doors are glass. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE 3/3/2015: Door was brought up to code. You can read about that here.



I took a brisk walk today. The air was brisk. I was about as slow as molasses in January, bundled in layers from the three hats on my head to the insulated barn boots on my feet, inching my way along to keep from slipping and sliding. I would have snapped a selfie but my phone was buried in a second layer pocket and it is hard to unzip things while wearing woolen mittens. Needless to say, it is frigid cold in Youngstown, Ohio.

Mr. Marsberry Cat

Mr. Marsberry Cat

Alas, 2015

Twenty years ago, I toasted the first dawn of the new year alone from the quiet solitude of my porch on Ohio Avenue in Warren, Ohio.  I was truly on my own for the first time in years, having moved two counties north over Christmas week. Previous attempts had failed. I needed geography to help me break free from an unhealthy relationship with a man who had divorced me twice.

My excuse was my car, an old beater that I had purchased at a yard sale for $500 and kept running with prayer and a Chilton’s book. The daily commute was too much. If my car broke down, if the winter was too harsh, if I could not get to work, I could lose my new job… I needed to live within walking distance to the firm that had hired me just months earlier to do electrical drafting and design.

It was a good excuse.  Jobs were hard to come by, especially for women in Appalachian regions of Ohio in the late 1980s and early 90s, and one of his excuses to divorce me the second time was some nonsense about how he needed a wife who could work, that it was too hard to survive on one income, and his buddies had told him that it did not matter what my scholastic accomplishments were, the fact was that no one would ever hire me.  In time, I tripled his income.

I cannot remember if I painted that first year. It was the first year I could, so maybe I did?

I know I did the next year, and for years thereafter.  I had this idea that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve is what will set the tone for the new year, so I would set up an easel with a fresh canvas and paint through the night. Then, as birds chirped anticipation, I would make myself an Irish coffee and slip outside to wait for the first rays of light so I could toast the dawn of the new year.

Some years were bitter cold, crisp and frosty, or blanketed in snow.

There is no snow this year.  The sun is bright.  I have not painted since before Winsor & Newton discontinued their Finity line of acrylics, so buttery and smooth… I haven’t tried their new line.

Last night, I took my granddaughter to First Night Youngstown so our New Year’s Eve celebration included face painting, African dancers, pizza, ice sculpture, origami, balloons, clowns, and two fun packed trips to the Oh Wow! Science Museum for Children.  We walked back to my apartment here in downtown Youngstown before 8:30 and she was asleep by ten.

Pizza time at 20 Federal

Pizza time at 20 Federal

As for this grandma, I was snuggled warm in my own bed texting with an old friend when the ball dropped at midnight, drifting out soon thereafter.

Twenty years and seven moves later, I am still on my own.

A lot of changes have come and gone. I have survived and thrived, crashed and burned, been up and down and turned around. Yet, tick tock life goes on. Good things are coming.

Alas, it is 2015.