If you are a new business owner in Houston or remodeling your Houston area business, you may have noticed that building codes require a particular type of door — a type of door that is very different from the doors that you typically find on your home. There are a lot of reasons for this. However, to understand the reason why most commercial doors are constructed differently, we need to look to the past.

Panic Bar — What is That?

Before we dive too far into the history of commercial doors, we need to define an important part of the commercial door — the panic bar. The panic bar, for those that don’t know, is the bar that you push on commercial doors that allows you to exit. Panic bars are normally spring-loaded and can sometimes be attached to an alarm system. Panic bars are often dogged. A dogged panic bar means that you can push the door open by touching anywhere on the door — not just on the panic bar. Often, the panic bar will be dogged during business hours to allow for easy access.

Panic Bars: A History Lesson

Unfortunately, the origin of the panic bar comes out of tragedy. In 1883, tragedy struck the town of Sutherland, England. A fire accidently broke out in a local building and 183 children died because they couldn’t exit the building. Their only way of escape was at the bottom of a stairwell. However, when they tried to push the door open, they found it bolted shut and so they were ultimately trapped.

Years later across the pond in Chicago, a similar tragedy happened. Over 600 people gathered at the Iroquois Theater, and were subsequently trapped inside when a fire ignited the building. All died from the fire or from being trampled by other panicked patrons. They may have been able escape if the iron doors of the theater weren’t locked from the outside. Having the doors locked on the outside wasn’t out of the ordinary then; most theater doors were locked to keep paying patrons in and non-paying ones out. Unfortunately, for the souls of the Iroquois Theater, this meant they lost their lives.

Years later tragedy struck again when 174 children died in the Cottonwood School fire due to the exits being blocked by faulty doors.

Never Again

After such horrendous and tragic events, those who were mechanically inclined decided there had to be a better way and through many iterations and tweaks, the world was given the panic bar. To learn more about the history of the panic bar and who we are to thank for such an invention, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post.

If you are in the Houston area and are in need of commercial door repair, contact the professionals at Commercial Door Service. We have been servicing large and small businesses in the Houston area with unbeatable repair and installation services since 1998. If you want commercial door repair that you can rely on, call Commercial Door Service!