Hollow Metal Doors & Frames, Architectural Hardware
Panic Devices: Panic Bars

Panic exit devices, also called “panic bars”, are required for exits into stairwells and exits for all class A occupancies which include schools, dormitories, institutions, and public buildings. They are also used in commercial buildings and factories where the occupancy load exceeds 70 persons. Panic bars were designed to allow groups of people to quickly exit from a building during a fire or panic without those in front being crushed against exit doors making them physically unable to turn or release latch sets. Panic bars were designed to prevent a repeat of earlier tragedies.

The older style panic devices were called “crash bars” and are still seen on buildings, but have generally gone out of use and have been replaced. Although effective on single doors, tragedies occurred when criminally negligent owners chained pairs of crash bars together, causing many deaths when fire or panic broke out. Today’s panic bars are raise flat bars that when depressed release the latch.


Panic bars are sold in both fire rated and non-fire rated versions.  The difference is that fire rated panic bars cannot be “dogged” into the open position and are always latched. This is to prevent the spread of fire into new areas.  Fire rated panic bars are actually designed to seize up and prevent egress when temperatures exceed 400 degrees.  Thus theyare always required for interior fire rated separations such as stairwells. Non fire rated panic bars may be used on all exits provided there is not another building or occupancy within 10 ft.


Panic bars are available in four different versions:  Rim panics are used to latch against the soffit of the door jamb or mullion in the case of double doors. Mortise panics operate with mortise lockset to latch into the door strike. Vertical rod panics latch use rods to latch against the header and floor in pairs of doors without mullions. Concealed vertical rod panics also latch against the header and floor but hide the rods in the door where they are protected from damage and abuse. The standard finishes for panic bars are aluminum, bronze, and stainless steel.

Dogging devices typically consist of mechanism to depress the bar into the open position with the use of an Allen key. Since Allen keys are easily obtained, users who want to prevent unauthorized persons from dogging doors open, can purchase panic bars with a dogging device activated by a mortise cylinder inserted into the bar. To alert users to a breach of security when a door is opened without authorization, panic bars are available with built in exit alarms.

Important Notes: To make installation of panic bars easier, and to reduce the expertise required by installers, we recommend that our shop “prep” the doors with the function holes required. Panic Bars come in standard lengths 36” and 48” but the bars can be cut down within specified limits to suit narrower doors. Proper placement of some panic bars requires the drilling of a blank door rather than using a door with a lock hole prep even when using knob or lever trim. Single rim panic bars can be used in a pair with an inactive leaf but require a double door strike to latch against the inactive leaf.


We appreciate the time frame you have given us to have the doors done. We were very happy with the first one, and are very excited to have them all done!