Building Occupancy Codes and Access Control Tutorial

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 11, 2016

A building or room's classification can greatly impact which building codes must be followed. In terms of access control, these 'occupancy codes' dictate how openings can be locked and what equipment is required, often representing a range of hundreds of dollars per door.

How do you know the occupancy classification of a space and which codes apply? Sometimes, even the AHJ may not be sure, and you need to determine this on your own. 

This report will guide you through the process to be sure, covering:

  • Why classification is necessary
  • Classification definition and key categories
  • Finding classification ratings
  • Comparing classification types
  • Impact on lock hardware selection
  • Handling mixed occupancies
  • Developing manual ratings

* ******** ** ****'* ************** *** ******* ****** ***** ******** codes **** ** ********. ** ***** ** ****** *******, ***** 'occupancy *****' ******* *** ******** *** ** ****** *** **** equipment ** ********, ***** ************ * ***** ** ******** ** dollars *** ****.

*** ** *** **** *** ********* ************** ** * ***** and ***** ***** *****? *********, **** *** ****** *** ** ****, *** *** **** ** ********* **** on **** ***. 

**** ****** **** ***** *** ******* *** ******* ** ** ****, covering:

  • *** ************** ** *********
  • ************** ********** *** *** **********
  • ******* ************** *******
  • ********* ************** *****
  • ****** ** **** ******** *********
  • ******** ***** ***********
  • ********** ****** *******

[***************]

Why ************** ** *********

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****** ********* ***** *** ******** ** **** *********** ******** ********** ***** ******, and ******** ****** ************ *** **** ******* ********** **** ******** access ** * *******.

Classifications *******

***** ******** ********** *** ************ **** ******, *** ******* ** the ********* *** ******* *** *** ** ********* *******.  ********** of *** ********** ** *** ********, *** ********* ******, ******** areas, *********, ******** *******, *** ********** ******** ********** ** ******** usually ******* *** **** ***** **********.

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  • ******** ***************: ***** ******* *** *******, *** ******* ************ ***** ** a ***** ***** ** *** ** ** ******** *** ***.

*******, **** ***** ******* *** ********** ** ********** ** ******** engineers ****** ******, *** ** ** ********* ********* *** ******** access ******* ********* ** ****** ***** **********.

Ratings ***** ** ********

** **** ***** ***** ******* *** ********* ** ******* **** or **********, ******* ******* ** ** "********* ********" **** **** example:

***** *** **** **** '********* *****' *** '********* (** ********) Classification', *** ****** ***** *** *** ***** *** ** **********.

** ***** *****, *** ****** **** **** ** *** *** AHJ, ** ******* ************ ** **** ******** ** *** ***. We ******* *** ***** *********** ****** ** *** ***** ******* "Developing ****** *******".

Classification *****

**** ** * **** ** *** ********* *************** ******* ** the************* ******** **** (***):

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  3. ***********: ***** *
  4. ******* *** **********: ****** *-* *** *-*
  5. **** ******: ****** *-*, *-*, *-*, *-* *** *-*
  6. *************: ****** *-*, *-*, *-* *** *-*
  7. **********: ***** *
  8. ***********: ****** *-*, *-*, *-* *** *-*
  9. *******: ****** *-* *** *-*
  10. ******* *** *************: ***** **

***** ************** ** ********* *************** ***** ** *** *** ******** or **** ** ******** ** ** ****. *** *******, ****** are ***** '*', ************* ****** ***** '*', *** ******* '*'.  From *****, *** ***-************** ** ***** ** ******** *** ** size ************** ********* ** ******* *** ** ***.  

**** '******* *** **********' ***** *-* ** *-*.  '*-*' ********** carry * '******** ******' ******, ***** '*-*' ***** '***-******'.

** *** **** ** '*************' ** '*' ***********, *** ******** I-1 **:

"[****] ****** **** **** ** *******, ** * ** **** *****, who ******* ** ***, ****** ********** ** ***** *******, **** in * ********** *********** *********** **** ******** ******** **** ********. The ********* *** ******* ** ********** ** ** ********* ********* without ******** ********** **** *****."

***** *-* **:

"[****] ********* ** **** **** **** ******* *** *** ***** restraint ** ******** *** ** ******** ** ******* *** *** generally ********* ** ****-************ *** ** ******** ******** *** ***** the ********’* *******."

** ***** *** ******* *** **** ** *********, *** *********** utility ** *** **** *** ******** ***********.

Impact ** ****** *******

********* ********* ***** *** ******** ****** ******* ********* ** ***** type ** **** ******** *** ** ****** ** *****.  ** general, ********* ***** ******* ***** **** ****** **** ** **** to ****** ***** ******. **** ********** **** *****, * *********** '*' ************** ***** *** require **** ******* ** *****, **** ** ******** '*' ************** would.

*** ********* ** **** ******* ** ***** ****** ***** ******* can ******* ****** ***** **** ** ********** **** ** **** (ie: ******* ** ******* ******) ** **** *** ******* ***** like ******** **** ***** ***** ** ***. *** **** ** exit ******* (***** ** *** ***** *****), *** *** **** ******* ********.

** ***** ** *** **** ****** ***************, ************* ******** **** (***) mandates ******** '*', ******** '*', ** *********** '*' *********** **** an ******** **** ** ** ** **** ******* ***** ******** *** doors ******** **** * **** ** *****. *** *** **** ****** '*' ***********, ***** ******** ** ******** regardless ** *** ******** ****.

******* ****** ********, **** *** ******** ***** ******** *** ***** ******* ********, Educational, ********, *** *** **** *********** **** ** ******** **** of *** ****** ** ****.

*** *******, **** ** (******** ********** ****) ******** ***** ******** ** **** **** ******** ** ***** within ** **** ** *** ******** ******* ***** *** '****-*******' areas, ******* ******** **** **** *** *****, **** **** *** amps, ** ******* ********/******* ***** ********** ******** ******** ***** ** **********.

Mixed ***********

********** ***** ** ***** ****** ********* *** ** ***** ***********. **** is ** ********* ******* ** **** *********, *** *** ***** classification ** ******** ** * ******** *** ****** ***** ******** variables **** ******* **** ********** *********, ****** ** *********, ********* egress ******, ** **** ******** ************ *** *********.

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Developing ****** *******

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**** ************

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**** ** ******* ******* **** **** **** *** * ******* occupancy ** *** ******. **** **** ***** ** ***** ***" - ***" ** *******. **** ******** ** ****** ** ****** in ***** **** ******** **** ***** **** ************* ***** ** five *****.

******** ****

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*** **** **** ** ** ****** **** ****** ** *** occupant **** ****** ***** ** ***(****)***** ****.*.* – ******* ***** **** ********** *** ********, ***** ****** ********* ** *** ********* ****.  *** ********* value ******** *** **** ***** *** ******** ** *******. 

Comments (4)

Great write up. Thanks for the overview. Something that many people overlook.

Excellent write up.

One troubling factor as it relates to access control and security is the officially designated egress path. I often encounter situations where the seemingly obvious egress is not the official egress path. In one case a large ground floor atrium public entrance lobby required an egress path INTO the private office space area. This means that crash bars are installed on the unsecured side in order to allow egress INTO the office space where another set of exit doors is located. This is due to the occupancy rating of the space versus the limited egress capacity of the front doors.

The result is a door equipped with security hardware that contradicts normal human behavior, or, in many cases, businesses give up and remove the security hardware leaving them vulnerable.

These are important factors that might be avoided when considered in the architectural design review process but are often overlooked by the architect leaving facility managers with the challenge of how to live with the way the building was built.

Regarding this example above:

"Take an example meeting room hall that has a maximum occupancy of 500 people. That room needs at least 100" - 150" of doorway. With doorways at around 36 inches in width that function hall would need approximately three to five doors."

How does this example end up with a variable answer of between 100" - 150" of doorway? Shouldn't you be able to calculate exactly how much doorway is required?

The flexibility is for accommodating architectural aesthetics.

An architect may really like the look of 32" doorways, so they decide to outfit the space with several of them, but to be code compliant they need to install wider 40" doors in two or three spots.

Or they chose to install two 36" doors adjacent to each other rather than a single double door sans mullion. Or a countless array of other minor details that might render a design non-compliant.

The specification is variable so it can apply to a general space without causing an avalanche of exceptions or RFIs.

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