I am a former safety official for federal agencies and now retired. In my work, I had to have a good working knowledge of the Life Safety Code (NFPA-101).
Recently, while traveling, I stayed in an upscale hotel in a state than has written the Life Safety Code into the state's statutes. When I tried to exit through the normal back exit of the hotel, the crash bar would not operate the door. That sent chills up my spine. I immediately contacted hotel personnel, who informed me that they had installed a motion detector "for security purposes" and that I might have to do a "little dance" to make sure the motion detector would unlock the door.
I recalled a provision from NFPA-101:
NFPA-101 Section 18.104.22.168.2, Access-Controlled Egress Door Assemblies
(3) c "When operated, the manual release device shall result in direct interruption of power to the lock, independent of the locking electronics, and the lock shall remain unlocked for not less than 30 seconds."
To me, that says the installation at the hotel was in violation, because egress was dependent on an electronic device that could fail. This seems to be a direct violation of the above requirement. Furthermore, the hotel told me that what they are doing was blessed by the Fire Marshall.
Am I reading the requirement incorrectly? Is there a situation in which the Life Safety Code allows egress to be blocked by a motion detector as described above?
Kenneth W. Stephens