What you should know about emergency exit doors
Next time you are in a restaurant, theater, hotel, hospital, school or other public building and you see an exit door chained shut, or even if it looks like an obstacle course because of boxes or chairs piled in front, take a big step towards safety and report it. If a sign above the door says "EXIT", obstructing or locking the door is not only unsafe, but its illegal. There are other ways to keep a building secure without endangering the people in it. Ever since the first "panic push bar" or exit hardware device was patented in 1908, doors can be kept locked from the outside while letting people inside leave quickly and safely.
The exit panic bars you see on most doors do an excellent job of both securing a building and providing a safe way out in an emergency. Yet if the building owner chains or blocks the emergency exits to stop abuse, a fire could extract a high price in tragic deaths for this security.
To prevent loss of goods or unwanted use of a door, codes now allow, and manufacturers have developed exit door hardware with built-in delayed releasing or unlocking and internal alarms. Von Duprin's CHEXIT Controlled Exit Device lets people leave immediately if a fire alarm or smoke detector goes off or power fails, but otherwise sound an alarm and keeps the door locked for 15 seconds to prevent a theft from leaving unwanted entry. The alarm can be turned off temporally to let authorized people use the door without sounding the alarm
Safety makes sense The most important thing to be aware of, there are products that can secure a building and provide life safety in an emergency.