BS 8621 – Keyless egress

Information supplied by the MLA for the benefit of the whole industry.

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]everal enquiries are routinely asked by locksmiths regarding keyless egress and when BS 8621 locks should be used. Due to the inherent nature of the applications for keyless egress (e.g. fire safety) and the continuous battle between safety and security there is always genuine concern shown by locksmiths not wanting to put peoples’ lives at risk whilst also ensuring security levels are maintained.

So, when should you use BS8621 locks? A simple question to answer. Or so you would think!

Here Justin Freeman, Technical Manager for the MLA, takes a look at the keyless egress standard and in particular where it applies.

A study of BS 3621, 8621 and 10621 quickly shows that these standards only explain the function of the different locks and then refer to BS EN 1303 and BS EN 12209. There is no indication in any of the standards as to exactly where BS 8621 locks should be used.

Further digging with input from the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers, The British Standards Institute, some of the British Standards working committees members and the Door and Hardware Federation, has highlighted further standards and specifications, namely BS EN 179 and 1125, The DHF / GAI code of practice: Hardware for fire and escape doors, LaCors fire safety guide, The Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 and the Fire precautions (flats) regulations 1996. There is however, still no clear answer in all of these documents as to exactly when BS 8621 locks have to be fitted. Whilst for commercial applications it is clear on what panic hardware has to be used, when it comes to domestic applications, it is the homeowner who decides how they want to secure a property.

The questions most frequently asked include:

When should I specify an 8621 lock?

The MLA would recommend that in any single exit dwellings, locksmiths advise that 8621 locks should be fitted. If the client demands a lock that conforms to 3621 the locksmith should advise that this lock is wrong for the application and get in writing that the client was advised and understood the risks but requested the non 8621 lock. This should protect the locksmith from any possible comeback in the event of an accident as it can be proved that you acted with good intention and the person responsible for the property declined the advice. Any other dwellings with more than one exit can have any form of locking deadlocking or otherwise.

Am I liable in a fire/entrapment situation?

It is impossible to answer this particular question because if it can be proved you acted irresponsibly you can be prosecuted for anything, however if you follow the advice in the previous question it can be proved that you gave the homeowner the correct advice. BS 8621 is not law.

Where is it written that I have to fit BS 8621 locks?

It is not! The building regulation ‘Approved document B 2006’ Emergency Escape Requirements is available as a free download from www.planningportal.gov.uk although it is not entirely clear what should be fitted. It explains in the document that single exit dwellings other than ground floor need easier means of escape; for example keyless egress. Organisations such as Secure By Design insist on using BS 8621 locks on single exit dwellings, and the NHBC have recommended keyless egress for individual flat entrance doors on one of their technical newsletters.

In summary, BS 3621, 8621 and 10621 are locks with different features for different applications and were all written around the original BS 3621. The documentation mentioned earlier in this article does not inform when a standard must or must not be used on domestic applications as it is down to the homeowner’s choice. The MLA recommends that any single exit dwelling should have BS 8621 locks and that members should advise accordingly. If a customer declines the advice it should be written into the paperwork that the advice was understood and declined (a signed note on the invoice would be ideal as that paperwork is always kept).

MLA members benefit from a significant technical resource both via the members section of the MLA’s website as well as via their technical manager. Presentations on standards are often given at MLA regional meetings. If you’re interested in joining then contact membership@locksmiths.co.uk.

[box type="note"]Editor’s note: If you are ever in doubt your local fire prevention officer SHOULD provide advice free of charge, It may well be useful to make contact so that in future you have the right person/telephone number to use. My advice as always is GET IT IN WRITING.[/box]

Thanks to the MLA and to Justin for making the time to put this article together for us.

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