You’ve probably noticed panic hardware hundreds of times and never knew it. The more common terms are “push bar” or “crash bar” and refer to the door handles that look- literally- like a giant bar, spanning across the width of the door. Naturally, the name “push bar” comes from how you use it.
Panic hardware is often found in commercial buildings, schools, gymnasiums, doctor’s offices, and the like. This type of door lock is also usually found on doors leading to exterior spaces- like exit doors.
But there is a difference between the typical panic bar and fire exit hardware.
How Panic and Fire Exit Devices Came to Be
Here is a bit of history for you. Did you know exit devices or panic hardware did not always exist? Their creation was due to a series of unfortunate events that occurred from about 1900 to 1911. It all started with a theater fire in Chicago. Apparently, the exits were blocked, and several hundred people died in the fire because they could not exit the building.
This is just one of the many horrible incidents that occurred due to improper exit hardware and panic devices. In 1911, there was a shirt factory fire that ignited the creation of exit devices. The owner of the factory was put on trial for the fire, and his defense was that there were no laws in place that related to employee protection and being able to leave the building.
So, the first fire exit hardware was created in 1911. And by 1913, building codes had been updated to ensure proper safety measures were taken. The codes that include the use of panic hardware and fire exit hardware remain in effect to this very day.