The options for special locking arrangements (SLAs) in the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® (LSC), include a litany of door operation features. This can include unlocking upon power loss, remote release or occupant approach, to name a few. Regardless of which option is selected, an operational analysis to determine the required functions of the locking mechanism is crucial to installing code-compliant security. A new tool from the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) assists with selecting the appropriate SLA based on the security needs required by the facility. The basic functions of SLAs are as follows:

  • Delayed egress (LSC 7.2.1.6.1). The door is electrically locked, and egress is required in one or both directions. The lock releases after a 15-second delay, or 30 seconds where approved by the authority having jurisdiction.
  • Access controlled egress (LSC 7.2.1.6.2). Doors are electrically locked in both directions, and egress is required in one direction. The lock is released by an occupant motion sensor and “push to exit” button from the egress side.
  • Elevator lobby (LSC 7.2.1.6.3). Secured elevator lobbies without access to another means of egress from within the elevator lobby. 
  • Clinical needs/security threat (LSC 18/19.2.2.2.5.1). Secured where clinical needs of patients, such as behavioral health or geriatric care patients, require their containment. Staff carry keys, codes or other means to unlock the doors.
  • Patient special needs (LSC 18/19.2.2.2.5.2). Secured where patients require security for their safety. While still meeting clinical needs, doors are unlocked upon power loss and certain fire alarm conditions. Examples of settings where this would apply include pediatric and emergency departments. 

Visit ASHE's website to download a decision tree tool that helps to guide users in choosing code-compliant locking arrangements.


Adam Graybeal  PE, is a fire protection engineer at Koffel Compliance LLC.