Building Occupancy Codes and Access Control Tutorial

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Nov 01, 2018

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.

This report will instruct how to determine the occupancy classification of a space, and which codes apply. The points we cover include:

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

* ******** ** ****'* classification *** ******* ****** which ******** ***** **** be ********. ** ***** of ****** *******, ***** 'occupancy *****' ******* *** openings *** ** ****** and **** ********* ** required, ***** ************ * range ** ******** ** dollars *** ****.

**** ****** **** ******** how ** ********* *** occupancy ************** ** * space, *** ***** ***** apply. *** ****** ** cover *******:

  • *** ************** ** *********
  • **** ****** ** **** hardware *********
  • ************** ********** *** *** categories
  • ******* ************** *******
  • ********* ************** *****
  • ******** ***** ***********
  • ********** ****** *******

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

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

********* ***** ****** ***** type ** **** ******** can ** ****** ** doors, **** ******** *** use (** ***) ** exit ******* *** ********.

************, ********* ***** ******* where **** ******* **** be **** ** ****** quick ****** *** **** 'A', '*', '*', '*', 'M', *** '*' ******. A *********** '*' ************** **** *** require **** ******* ** doors.

** ***** *****, *** local *** *** ******** methods **** ******* ****** *** ******* ********* ***** only (**: '*' ****) where *** ***** ***** do *** ******** **** at ***. *** **** may ***** ** ********** lock ***** **** ********. The ********* **** *** refine ***** ** ***** not ****** ******* ** allowed *** ***** ***********.

*** ********* ** **** devices ** ***** ****** lever ******* *** ******* impact ***** **** ** electronic **** ** **** (e.g., ******* ** ******* strike) ** **** *** exclude ***** **** ******** from ***** ***** ** use.

*** **** ** **** devices (***** *****), *** our **** ******* ********.

** ***** ** *** most ****** ***************, ************* ******** Code (***) ******** ******** 'A', ******** '*', ** Educational '*' ***********, **** an ******** **** ** 50 ** ****, ******* exit ******* *** ***** equipped **** * **** or *****. *** *** **** Hazard '*' ***********, ***** hardware ** ******** ********** of *** ******** ****.

******* ****** ********, **** *** ******** exit ******* *** ***** serving ********, ***********, ********, and *** **** *********** with ** ******** **** of *** ****** ** more. *** *******, **** 70 (******** ********** ****) ******** ***** ******** or **** **** ******** on ***** ****** ** feet ** *** ******** working ***** *** '****-*******' areas, ******* ******** **** than *** *****, **** than *** ****, ** battery ********/******* ***** ********** ******** ******** ***** or **********.

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

*************, * ******* ** tragedies *** ****** *** the ****** ************** ** needed. 

*********** ***** **** ** **** ** *** example, ***** **** *** hotel ********* **** ******* insufficient **** ****** ****** and ****** *** **** designed **** *** ******** based ** ****** ******** loads. ***** ********* **** NYC's **** ******** ********** **** (***** *****, ******* ****** 150) **** ***** *** importance ** ******** ******** and ********** ****** ****** in * *********, ********** resulting ********* *** **** *** modern ****/****** ***** ** a ****** ***********:

****** ********* ***** *** designed ** **** *********** ******** ********** areas ******, ********** ****** ************ for **** ******* ********** like ******** ****** ** a *******.

Door ******** ******** ** ****

*** ******, ***** **** of **** ******** ** allowed ** **** ** integrated **** *** ****** is ***** ******** ** code. ****-******** *********** ***** require ******* ****** ***** like **** *******, *** *** ********* code ********** *** ********* they *** ** *** area.  ** ***** **** deeper ** *** '****** on ****** *******' *******.

Classifications *******

************* ************* ************ **** ******, the ******* ** *** buildings *** ******* *** can ** ********* *******.  Regardless ** *** ********** of *** ********, *** gathering ******, ******** *****, factories, ******** *******, *** commercial ******** ********** ** contains ******* ******* *** same ***** **********.

** ***** ** ************ this, *** ***** ******* are ****, *** **** them ** ****** ***** of ************ *** *****. The **** *** ******** exits, **** *******, ********* systems, ***********, ********, *** even ***** **** ** door ******** *** ** used ** ***** ** based ** ***** **********:

  • ******** *****: **** ****** ********** the ******* ****** ** people *** *** ****** in * ***** **************, depending ** ******* **** area, ********* *****, ******** strength, *** *** ****.
  • ******** ***************: ***** ******* *** concise, *** ******* ************ are ***** ** * space ***** ** *** it ** ******** *** use.

*********, **** ***** ******* are ********** ** ********** or ******** ********* ****** design, *** ** ** sometimes ********* *** ******** access ******* ********* ** figure ***** **********.

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

** **** ***** ***** ratings *** ********* ** drawing **** ** **********, usually ******* ** ** "Occupancy ********" **** **** example:

********* ******** '******* *****' of ****** ** ******** room **************, **** '******** room' ** '******' ********** which ***** ****** ***** on **** *** ***** loading. ***** *** **** like '********* *****' *** 'Occupancy (** ********) **************', the ****** ***** *** the ***** *** ** determined.

** ***** *****, *** designer **** **** ***** *** *** ** ******* ************ ** be ******** ** *** AHJ. ** ******* *** basic *********** ****** ** the ***** ******* "********** Manual *******".

Classification *****

**** ** * **** of *** ********* *************** defined ** **************** ******** **** (***):

  1. ********: ****** *-*, *-*, A-3, *-* *** *-*
  2. ********: ***** *
  3. ***********: ***** *
  4. ******* *** **********: ****** F-1 *** *-*
  5. **** ******: ****** *-*, H-2, *-*, *-* *** H-5
  6. *************: ****** *-*, *-*, I-3 *** *-*
  7. **********: ***** *
  8. ***********: ****** *-*, *-*, R-3 *** *-*
  9. *******: ****** *-* *** S-2
  10. ******* *** *************: ***** U1

***** ************** ** ********* straightforward ***** ** *** the ******** ** **** is ******** ** ** used. *** *******, ****** are ***** '*', ************* plants ***** '*', *** schools '*'.  **** *****, the ***-************** ** ***** on ******** *** ** size ******* ******* ********* in ***.  

**** '******* *** **********' codes *-* ** *-*.  'F-1' ********** ***** * 'moderate ******' ******, ***** 'F-2' ***** '***-******'.

** *** **** ** 'Institutional' ** '*' ***********, the ******** *-* **:

"[****] ****** **** **** ** persons, ** * ** hour *****, *** ******* of ***, ****** ********** or ***** *******, **** in * ********** *********** environment **** ******** ******** care ********. *** ********* are ******* ** ********** to ** ********* ********* without ******** ********** **** staff."

***** *-* **:

"[****] ********* ** **** than **** ******* *** are ***** ********* ** security *** ** ******** by ******* *** *** generally ********* ** ****-************ due ** ******** ******** not ***** *** ********’* control."

** ***** *** ******* use **** ** *********, the *********** ******* ** the **** *** ******** definitions.

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

********** ***** ** ***** within ********* *** ** coded ***********. **** ** ** important ******* ** **** buildings, *** *** ***** classification ** ******** ** a ******** *** ****** other ******** ********* **** minimum **** ********** *********, number ** *********, ********* egress ******, ** **** lighting ************ *** *********.

** *******, '***** ***********' are * ****** ** access ******* ******* **** if * ***** ********* carries * **** ********* life ****** ** ****** requirement, ** **** ** observed ** *** *********** area.

*** *******, ** * small '**** ******' **** is ********** ** * less ********* '*******' ******, any ****** ***** **** abide ** *** '**** hazard' **************. *** **** circumstance *** ***** ** a ***** ** * college ********* (******* ** 'R' ****) **** ******** a ***** ***** **** or ******** (** '*' code).  ** **** ****, all ****** ****** ***** would **** ** ** equipped **** **** ******* regardless ** **** **** located ** ** '*' area ** *** ******* of *** '*' ***** occupancy ****.

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

** ************* ********* ***** and ******* ****** ** found, *** **** *** arise ** ** **** manually. ********* ***** ********** are ********* **** ** determine, ***** *** ****** use **** ** ******** to *** ******** ****** in ******* * ** IBC, ****** "*** *** ********* ***************".

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

** ***** ** ********* the ******* ****** ** people *** *** **** to ****** ** ** a **** ** ********, the *** ********** * certain ****** ** ****** of ******* *** ********. Exits **** ****** * ******** need ** **** *.*" of ******* *** ******, and *** ***** ***** need *.*" ** ******* per ******.

**** ** ******* ******* room **** **** *** a ******* ********* ** 500 ******. **** **** needs ** ***** ***" - ***" ** *******. With ******** ** ****** 36 ****** ** ***** that ******** **** ***** need ************* ***** ** five *****.

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

** ********* *** ******** load, *** ***** **** is ** ********* *** area ** *** ***** in ******** ** *********** the ****** ***** *** width ***** *** *****. For *******, ** * boardroom ******** ** **** (~12m) ** ** **** (~15m), *** **** **** measures **** ****** **** (~609 **. *). *** next **** ** ** divide **** ****** ** the ******** **** ****** found ** ***(****)***** ****.*.* – ******* Floor **** ********** *** Occupant, ***** ****** ********* on *** ********* ****.  The ********* ***** ******** how **** ***** *** occupant ** *******. 

**** *** ****** ******** load *** **** **********, it *** ** **** as ******** ******* ******* or *** **** ******* must ** ****/**** ** doors, ** ******* ** not *** ***'* ***** exception ***** **** '** Maglocks' ***** ** *** space.

[****: **** *** ********** published ** **** *** substantially ********* ** ****.]

Comments (5)

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.

Interesting and informative article and helps shine some light on some situations we've all likely been in when installing delayed egress mag locks on doors leading into a seemingly smaller space that also have a card reader on the outside. Odd, but there is usually a stairwell egress door somewhere close on the other side of the door with the card reader and the delayed egress lock.

Question >>> for the infamous pool gate lock at an apartment/condo complex where we are asked to install card access control. I have seen many variations on the locking method and gate hardware, as well as the challenges of making egress as simple and foolproof as possible. Would there ever be a situation where an actual panic device would be required on the gate opening versus the more common methods, even if an electric strike is used? The usual screens/guards would need to be in place to prevent someone from reaching through to pull the panic device towards them, but wondering it a high occupancy pool area would fall under any of the scenarios for needing a true panic device versus exit hardware like a lever or push paddle?

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