1. Welcome to the new and improved Building Code Forum. We appreciate you being here and hope that you are getting the information that you need concerning all codes of the building trades. This is a free forum to the public due to the generosity of the Sawhorses, Corporate Supporters and Supporters who have upgraded their accounts. If you would like to have improved access to the forum please upgrade to Sawhorse by clicking here: Upgrades
    Dismiss Notice

Locked Escape Game Rooms

Discussion in 'Commercial Fire Codes' started by brr, Feb 20, 2020.

  1. brr

    brr Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2020
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have a client that has been operating an escape room games in a tenant space in the City of Tualatin, Oregon without permits. The space is 4,300 s.f. and unsprinkled. I'm tasked with creating a life safety plan with any required upgrades. This is the City's first time dealing with an escape room. I asked a senior inspector the following questions about the City's position on locking players in rooms:

    Question #1 - "Door Locks: I am still not sure how to address the door hardware issues for the escape rooms. You said you would discuss this with your colleagues and let us know. I don’t advocate for anything less that a manual push-type door lock release for the electric door locks. I have endeavored to create some type minimum performance description for the game room door hardware and labeled all other doors which are part of the egress path or that the public could use. One overriding issue that the building layout presents is that is a bit of a complex maze in itself, regardless of the escape games rooms use. It is difficult to determine which areas are exclusive to employee use and those which the public may access, and, the space is subject to reconfiguration of uses or expansion of game rooms into the spaces not currently used by the public. Please let me know if you have come to any decisions on the door lock requirements."

    The inspector's answer:
    "I agree with you about exit hardware but based on your occupancy loads, OSSC 1008.1.10 would require panic bars only at the exterior exits. Based on your drawings, individual spaces would only require modern accessible hardware as per 1008.1.9.1."
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We met with the City officials before I asked these questions, and I was surprised that they were so non-concerned about locking people in dark rooms. What I'm most concerned about is any liability on my part as an architect. I made up a performance door hardware schedule with a qualification that the escape rooms get a manual release of any door locking mechanism on any door that is controlled by the escape room staff. The inspector's comment just states the obvious that all hardware be "accessible". I'm not sure whether that means no electric bolts (for the players, only a keypad can release those). And, if they are allowed, what if they fail or the staff flees the building to get away from a fire, leaving the players to their fate! I certainly will ask the inspector for more clarity, but it appears as though they are skirting my question – do you think I'm misinterpreting the answer? I found a few threads on this issue - here's one https://www.qrfs.com/blog/295-escape-room-fire-safety-are-escape-rooms-safe/ . There is also one post on this forum that refers to the issue quite well, https://www.thebuildingcodeforum.com/forum/threads/escape-rooms-special-amusement-building.14437/ , . Any comments or links to similar discussions would be appreciated? Also, all of the controls and video monitors in the escape room have been installed/jerry-rigged by the owner, but I can't imagine that with popularity of escape rooms that someone has not created some hardware with some emergency release mechanism - anyone familiar with how this is dealt with elsewhere?

    Question #2 - "Game Room Emergency Lighting: We’ve had the electrical contractor out to the site and he said that emergency lighting would only be required at the exit signs, with a combo exit sign-lighting unit. The owner has expressed his desire to add no more safety features than the minimum code mandates. As far as my understanding of the code is correct, no room meets the normal assembly occupancy load threshold for code mandated emergency lighting. I advised the owner that because he has rooms where the lights will be turned off while customers are locked into rooms and those rooms have only switches outside of the locked room, he should provide emergency illumination in all game rooms (the game rooms may be updated, so even rooms that are currently lighted with their own switch controls, may become dark rooms in the future). Those customers in those dark rooms are supplied with pen flashlights, which you may consider a compensation for the lack of lighting and emergency lighting if an emergency occurs. Does Tualatin have a position on emergency lighting in these dark rooms or any escape games rooms?"

    Inspector's answer:
    "Our policy is as per OSSC 1006. While additional lighting is useful in an emergency, we do not mandate more or allow less than the code requires."

    I'm less concerned with the lighting issue, but I personally would not want to be locked into a dark room while a fire is raging, all the while trying to find the clues to undo the lock. I sure hope we don't have more escape room deaths like the ones in Poland.
     
  2. brr

    brr Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2020
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
  3. brr

    brr Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2020
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
  4. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
    Will read you original again

    Easiest solution

    Regular door hardware all room doors.

    Rules are you open the door before time is up or clues are solved/ found You Lose.

    So at any time people can get out normally
     
  5. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
    Install the lowest lume exit signs allowed over each room exit door.
     
  6. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
    I imagine there are cameras thru out.

    If not install them.

    If they see a problem or something else, have one switch,,, that brings up all the needed lighting.


    Now I will read you op again
     
  7. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
    Don’t let the city call it a

    Special Amusement
     
  8. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
    Besides required emergency lighting,,

    You have to have Normal required lighting level at all times, along the exit way.


    This place sounds like blind leading the blind,,

    You might want to give some money back and go fishing
     
  9. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253
  10. JPohling

    JPohling Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    149
    These types of facilities are typically controlled and monitored by staff. None of the rooms are actually locked and anyone can "escape" at any time, but if you simply open the exit door that you are told is "locked" then you loose the game. No one is physically restricted from exiting at any time. If you are saying that in this facility people are indeed locked inside that is a serious problem and should be shut down
     
  11. e hilton

    e hilton Bronze Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2014
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    217
    I was sorta reading it that way. Like they wanted to advertise it as the most difficult rooms to “escape” from.
     
  12. ADAguy

    ADAguy Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    4,552
    Likes Received:
    435
    Install electric latches on all exit doors that will fail/release open in the event the alarm goes off?
    Tie them into activating emergency lighting if activated?
    Others have made these work, you can too.
     
  13. e hilton

    e hilton Bronze Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2014
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    217
    Use the 15 second delay hardware, so if they bump against it in the dark it doesn’t open accidently and ruin the game. And attach a luminescent label to it.
     
  14. FM William Burns

    FM William Burns Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,873
    Likes Received:
    112
    Special Amusement provisions of NFPA 101, smoke detection, elec/mag locking devices that fail open on alarm, power failure or panic. Floor proximity egress path marking interface with emergency power supply and alarm, overriding emergency feature capability at constantly attended location for unlocking and auto lighting entire facility for starters if the want to do it right.
     
  15. ICE

    ICE Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Messages:
    8,884
    Likes Received:
    1,099
    The rooms labeled corridor are what exactly?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. brr

    brr Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2020
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    1
    They are just non-used rooms, but I needed to indicate that they are not part of the assembly space and part of the egress path, so, if they are functioning a corridors, then that's what I'll call them.

    I think most of the suggestions about the locked rooms are good ones, especially, don't have locks. There is actually a series of jail cell escape rooms in which the bar doors have no catch mechanism at all - they just pressure fit against the jamb. My thought is, if you can suspend your disbelief and play prison without a lock, then why can't you do that in the other rooms? What do I know about these things! The objective of the jail rooms is to get from one room to the others, and the unlocked doors are to the corridor, and they said it was a favorite escape challenge.

    I never tested the other doors to see if they truly locked, I was just told that by the client. They had number key releases on the inside. There where low voltage wires strung everywhere and back to the staff control room. And, lots of cameras everywhere. Part of the problem in determining exactly how the escape rooms operate is that I was there each time with owner, and it is his son who furnished all of the rooms and built the control systems - the father seemed pretty clueless. The lease and the state business license is in the father's name, so he is responsible for the insuring the business is legal and up to code - apparently, he really loves his son! They had no idea about building code regulations when they started the business...

    But, here's the thing, the building inspectors are being so nice. The owner was first cited back in December and given 30 days to bring his building up to code. I was brought in several days before the 30 days expired and immediately contacted the building department to say we are on this and needed an extension, and it was granted - and the business is still open. I also went to the neighboring business to the north and asked them to unblock the escape room's two exit doors (a shabby sheek store that piled old doors for sale against the outside of the north doors), they were still blocked almost 30 days after the inspectors first visited and cited the escape business. And, in case you think the escape business owners are so bad that I should run away as soon as possible, I have found that most business owners are as clueless and as non-concerned as these guys when it comes to public safety. These guys had even padlocked the west door to prevent employees from going into the alley and smoke, then leave the door unlocked at night after they left - I cannot tell you how many times I have seen some variation of this over the years. Owners too often are focused on management and making money, not public safety and liability. That's why they hire professionals (when they are forced to) and that's why I work closely with the building department to define the code requirements. Except, these building officials seem to be the most non-plussed inspectors I've ever encountered.

    When we met with the inspectors at the business, I asked the owner if a fire marshal had inspected the building in the year they had been in operation (knowing that, obviously, they had not), and the owner said no, then the inspectors said that there is very little chance that they ever would - the fire marshal is apparently stretched very thin, and does not inspect small businesses. If my past experience with fire marshals is any guide, there would be no ambiguity as to what would be required to make this space safe. If I owned this business, I'd want the fire marshal there, and, if I were a building official in unknown territory, I'd ask the fire marshal to weigh-in.

    In my performance door hardware schedule, I noted this for the escape room door hardware, and with an more recent edit I've added here [], after the inspectors comment:
    Escape game rooms - non-locking or, if locking, lock release mechanism shall be located on the egress side on the door panel [, be complient with OSSC 1008.1.9 Door Operations and] NFPA 101 7.2.1.5.6 Door Hardware Release of Electronically Locked Egress Door Assemblies.
    The inspector did not comment on this note directly, so, I'll leave it in with the modification and, hopefully, that will cover any lock concerns and we'll wait and see what the building department says at review and/or inspection. We are still waiting to meet with a fire alarm contractor and get a shop drawings and system specs from him for pull station locations and smoke detectors before submittal.

    This is the simple truth and is exactly what should govern all the escape room exiting requirements... except that it's only occupancy load that can triggers some of these, but then there's the fact that I thought you technically can never lock someone in room, unless it's in an institutional building and you follow all the building code and NFPA regulations... I'll be sure and revisit 101 before I submit the plans - thanks Mr. Burns!.
     
  17. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,983
    Likes Received:
    1,253

    1. Get rid of any electronic locking on exit doors, and just use normal door hardware, one operation.

    2. Do not call it a special amusement building, only adds to everything, plus, if you can normally walk out of an exit door, and there are exit signs to direct you to an exit, you are not a special amusement building.
     
  18. JPohling

    JPohling Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    149
    I guess accessible restrooms will be coming?
     
  19. my250r11

    my250r11 Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2015
    Messages:
    676
    Likes Received:
    202
    I don't like exiting thru ROOMS, not a corridor/egress path.
     
    ICE likes this.
  20. ICE

    ICE Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Messages:
    8,884
    Likes Received:
    1,099
    Game room 115b exits through 115a.

    1016.2 Egress through intervening spaces. Egress through intervening spaces shall comply with this section.

    2. Egress from a room or space shall not pass through adjoining or intervening rooms or areas, except where such adjoining rooms or areas and the area served are accessory to one or the other, are not a Group H occupancy and provide a discernible path of egress travel to an exit.

    3. An exit access shall not pass through a room that can be locked to prevent egress.
     
    my250r11 likes this.

Share This Page