What Does "FA Release" And "Emergency Pull" Refer To In Access Control?

What does "FA release" refer to when refering to an access control system? I know an emergency pull is a cut off switch, but not what a FA release is.


FA release= fire alarm release

Refers to the requirement for any door that is equipped with a magnetic lock must be released automatically when the evacuation system of the building is activated. The power supplies for the magnetic locks are equipped with a fire alarm release input that is connected to the dry contact of the fire supervision/evacuation panel. When there is a fire alarm, the mag locks must unlock.

Emergency pull= emergency pull station

Refers to one of 2 things: either a red fire emergency pull station (most probably) seen at exits of just about any building or (less probably) a blue emergency pull station which exists only as an emergency unlock for mag locks (these are used in Canada but I don't think they are common anywhere else). Blue pull stations are NOT a code-approved alternative to a UL-APPROVED electro-mechanical panic bar.

Thanks Mark. Good stuff!

Thank you. Is a red pull station UL-Approved without a electro-mechanical bar? If yes, do they make red pull stations that just open the door and dont trigger the fire alarm?

Thank you


Just to be sure not to confuse things- a red pull station's function is only to trigger the evacuation system of the building. It is always connected to the fire panel. You cannot use red pull stations for any other function.

If you have a door that is in the egress path (so the emergency exit path) of a building that is equipped with a magnetic lock, the rules are clear:

1. The power supply of the mag lock MUST be connected to the dry contact of the building's evacuation system. Any fire alarm= door unlocks

2. The door MUST be equipped with a UL-APPROVED electro-mechanical panic bar that will cut the power to the mag locks. There are standards for how to install the bar (the height).

3. The panic bar can stop the exit for a maximum of 15 seconds and must unlock if a constant pressure of 3 seconds is applied to the bar (a 3/15 panic bar).

This applies only to doors defined as "egress doors" (those in the evacuation path of a building). For a stockroom door or a bathroom door, for example, you would not need the panic bar but you would still need to connect the mag lock to the building's evacuation system.

In the end, your local fire Marshall (or fire inspector : called the Authority Having Jurisdiction or AHJ) is the one who decides and has precedence over everything (he can overrule NFPA or UL/ building code if he feels it is justified). NFPA defines the rules but it is the AHJ that interprets and applies the rules locally. Talk to him, he will counsel you on the correct way to equip your door.

From experience, AHJ do not like mag locks that don't have panic bars and they need a really good excuse to accept that a door with a magnetic lock not be equipped with a panic bar (a glass door, for example, could be an exception for some AHJ)

I hope this helps

Thank you, that was extreemely helpful. Actual the situation I am looking at in particular has 3 emergency exists that are accessible without going through the door that has the maglock.

The main doors lead to elevators as well as an emergency exit. That door has a maglock on it. That door is a glass door. I am trying to figure out what needs to be hooked up to the door so that they can pass.

If the fire alarm is hooked up to the system as a cut off, and being that it is a glass door, is a push bar still required? If there is a pull switch or a exit button on the side of the door that cuts off power, is a push bar requried as well?

Thank you

The composition of the door (glass, wood, metal) has no incidence on whether it needs a panic bar or not. If it is in the egress path, it needs a panic bar, period-- UNLESS the AHJ approves an exception for that door. Only the AHJ can authorize an exception that deviates from code.

That being said, I have seen MANY (by many I mean hundreds) of AHJ-approved exceptions authorized for glass doors in high rise buildings. Electronically locking glass doors is a problem - sometimes there's only a mag lock that can lock the door and there's no way to fit (or its too ugly...) a panic bar. In those cases, I have seen the AHJ approve an alternate (local to the door) unlocking method for the mag lock: a blue pull station like this:


In any case, alternate unlocking methods like this pull station are not code approved and need to be authorized by your AHJ. AHJ that work in downtown areas of large cities are exposed to these issues and are sensitive to the difficulties of equiping a beautiful glass door. Most AHJ are reasonable if you discuss this with them.