Exit Doors

Essential Property Services observes many clients being confused and frustrated with their understanding of the terms doors, exit and exit doors when they either receive a building notice from the local council or when reading from an essential safety measures inspection report.

This article aims to provide the reader with the background knowledge to allow you to communicate professionally with either the building surveyor/ building certifier or essential safety measures auditor relative to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) terms for ‘doors’ and ‘exit doors’ when used in essential safety measure audits and building approvals.

Building Code of Australia

The BCA is very specific in its approach for the location, use and operation of exit doors for egress requirements. The BCA does ‘not’ use the term ‘exit doors’, this is a generic term to describe a combination of clauses in the BCA. Exit is a defined term, where as doors are nominated in many clauses to obtain the necessary attributes depending on the use and location, such as fire rating, swing, construction, locking devices and smoke-proofing.

The following part extract from (helps in the understanding of the term exit doors) BCA Part A1 Interpretation A1.1 Definitions states:

Exit means –

(a) Any, or any combination of the following if they provide egress to a road or open space –

(i) An internal or external stairway.
(ii) A ramp.
(iii) A fire-isolated passageway.
(iv) A doorway opening to a road or open space.

(b) A horizontal exit or a fire-isolated passageway leading to a horizontal exit.

The following illustration depicts what constitutes an exit from a storey. The doors entering the stairwells are generically called exit doors.

It is interesting to note that other than ‘doorway’ the term door does not appear in the BCA definition of Exit. All the elements in a building defined under the term exit must have a door (exit doors) included to allow passage from a floor area through to the nominated exit. Because there are multiple building classifications under Volume 1 of the BCA ie class 2 to 9, the BCA contained significant criteria for exit doors (in exits and paths of travel to an exit) which varies considerably with a class of building relative to its height and to other buildings of differing classification.

Specific criteria for doors (exit doors) are set out in individual clauses relative to the building classification.

In Part D2 Construction of Exits clauses D2.21 Operation of Latch provides the requirements for the doors (exit doors) latch, a part extract follows:

D2.21 Operation of latch

(a) Except as required by (b), a door in a required exit, forming part of a required exit or in the path of travel to a required exit must be readily openable without a key from the side that faces a person seeking egress, by a single hand downward action or pushing action on a single device which is located between 900 mm and 1.1 m from the floor, except if it –

Part D Construction of Exits in the BCA contains clauses D2.0 to D2.23 inclusive, a lot of these clause as per D2.21 above deal with doors (exit doors) when installed in a required exit or otherwise.

 

The following is a part extract of clause I1.1 for an Essential Safety Measure (as appeared in BCA 2013) known as doors (exit doors):

Table I1.2 Safety Measures – Means of Egress

Safety Measures BCA Provision for Determining Standard of Performance
Smoke hazard management systems – Air-handling systems that do not form part of a smoke hazard management system and which may unduly contribute to the spread of smoke. E2.2

Essential Safety Measures Audit – Air Conditioning Systems

An air conditioning systems maintenance must be sufficient for the air handling equipment to deliver adequate amounts of outdoor air with sufficient circulation and to remove containments. A check by the essential safety measures auditor of the building surveyors/ certifiers essential safety measures determination/ schedule will reveal the air conditioning systems are nominated as an essential safety measure, and will have to be maintained by AS/NZS 3666.2:2002 Air-handling and water systems of buildings – Microbial control – Operation and maintenance.

The essential safety measures auditor must check the mechanical contractor’s air conditioning systems logbook to ascertain whether inspections, testing and maintenance are being carried out as required to ensure fire safety compliance. Any deficiencies in the air conditioning systems should be registered in the building’s essential safety measures logbook to allow signing of the Annual Statement, Annual Certificate of Compliance, Annual Fire Safety Statement, Annual Maintenance Statement and Annual Occupiers Statement.