Locksmith Charley presents: 

FIRE SAFETY  vs.  BURGLAR BARS

I can't begin to count the number of homes that I have been to where the owner of the house has requested me to change the locks - not only on the doors, but on DOUBLE CYLINDER deadbolts on burglar bars on bedroom windows.

The notion of having to find a key and successfully operate a deadbolt when you are attempting to escape a fire is foolhardy and exceptionally STUPID. Frankly I don't know who is more stupid, the people that purchase these death-trap devices or the companies who sell and install them who could be found liable for millions of dollars should one person become injured or killed because of this type of device.

Every place I've ever worked as a locksmith (Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Washington state) have all adopted fire codes and building codes that require that any burglar bar type device on a bedroom window have a "quick release" mechanism to allow the occupants to get out in a hurry in case of a fire.
Obviously a double cylinder deadbolt requiring a key does NOT fill these requirements.

An example of a device that does is shown in the pictures below. First is the picture showing the bar closed and in a secure condition. Note that the cable runs to a foot release that is well away from the window and out of reach of a burglar. 


(sorry for the quality of the pictures, but the lighting was bad when I took them)


Above is a picture of the burglar bars in an open condition. It was quite easy for anyone to stick their foot into the housing and depress the pedal while pulling the window bars open. 

If you or a loved one is contemplating the idea of having burglar bars installed on a house or apartment please make sure that they get an APPROVED quick release device instead of a key lock. 

I would also encourage anyone knowing about any company installing burglar bars on a residence that uses key-locking devices on bedroom windows to report those companies immediately to the city fire marshal, building inspectors, and anyone else they can think of. You may be saving someone's life. 

Since I am now living in Phoenix, I found this reference to be of particular interest:
http://www.ci.phoenix.az.us/FIRE/homefire.html which states in pertinent part:
"If window security bars are desired, install or retrofit windows with bars that have a single action quick release. Every bedroom must have minimum of one exit that can be opened to the outside of the home. You must be able to use the exit without special tools. A key is considered a special tool. The Phoenix Fire Department advises that bars on windows should have a single action quick release device." (emphasis added) 

Another link on the same topic: http://www.icbo.org/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000229.html has a posting by a knowledgeable person who says: "Most codes require to have one bedroom window that is open able without tools key or special knowledge. If there are bars than for that window only it has to meet the above criteria. People burn almost weekly because they cannot get out. It normally is found in the building code." (emphasis added, spelling and grammar corrected.)

7/8/05 - here is a recent tragic story - a 3yr and 11yr old lost... 
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/story/325106p-277923c.html

What can be said for "burglar bars" can also be said for DOUBLE CYLINDER DEADBOLTS (a deadbolt with a keyhole on the inside as well as a keyhole on the outside) on entry doors or security doors . That is to say that unless you keep a key in the inside cylinder at all  times when someone is at home you are in violation of fire codes and you and/or someone you love is subject to being BURNED TO DEATH if there is a FIRE!

New: 2012!

I have been asked before "Where can I get some of these safe quick-release window guards?" 
Well, until recently I didn't have any answer for that question. The pictures of the one above were taken at a house I was re-keying in New Orleans and I have no clue how to find the manufacturer or installer.

I have done some research and have now found a local source of window bars that have a quick release capability.

I would be delighted to provide quotes for all of your window bar needs, please e-mail me with the dimensions of the windows you would like to have protected and I will reply with a quote.   e-mail:Charley@LocksmithCharley.com

The photos below are representative of the specific product that I have available.

 

Specific sizes that are available are: (sizes are height x width in inches)

24x24,  24x54,  36x36,  36x48,  36x54,  42x42, 48x36, and 48x48.

Other sizes may be available, but I would have to do some research to find out for sure.

 

 

 

Thanks for your attention and interest in this most important matter! 

Locksmith Charley

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