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.

SMACK! DUH! ARRRGH!

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.

TEST RESULTS:

  • 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.

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6 thoughts on “Push to Exit

  1. 1) DO write a letter regarding this issue and MAIL it. 2) Include all the information in this blog. 3) Always carry your manual unlocking device. It would also be useful in s “self defense” situation.

    • After considerable thought, I decided to let it go… I discovered a problem, brought it to their attention so they could fix it, and they choose to argue that the problem doesn’t exit. Bottom line is, it’s their problem… not mine. I’m not going to worry about it because our fire department responds to alarms here very quickly (arriving in less than 3 or 4 minutes) and firemen do carrying axes and big sledge hammers.

  2. Fire on Four. I was jarred awake by the fire alarm ye 2am, so I threw jeans on, grabbed my shoes, coat, and bag, and headed for the door. It was cool to the touch, so I opened it, saw smoke down on the far end of my hall, then went down the steps with the only other tenant on this floor who bothered to evacuate. This “real life test” of the access controlled egress door in an actual fire emergency revealed ANOTHER VIOLATION besides the lack of a manual unlocking device – the sensor FAILED TO DROP as required by law – power to that sensor is supposed to cut off while the fire alarm is activated.

    Well, so much for being quiet… I told firemen about it as they came through the door (also told them that the smoke was on the far end of Four) and one fireman was fumbling with the real keys from the lock box outside trying to open the inner door. (Shouldn’t that sensor also be deactivated while the fire alarm is active?) He was having problems with the real key, so I used my blue fob electronic key to unlock the inner door for them.

    The building manager arrived awhile later in a really bitchy mood saying whoever did this was “really in trouble” so whoa… she’s sparring for a fight and I’m not arguing with her tonight. Besides, I am DONE talking to her about sensors.

    As for the fire… no fire… someone who maybe should not be trying to cook at 2am smoked up his kitchen and opened his door to the hall instead of opening a window to clear it out, so it set off alarms on three floors. Welcome to International Towers.

  3. Pingback: UPDATE: Push to Exit | Barnbees

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