Installing Burglar Bars: A good idea or fire hazard?

By | February 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm | No comments | Home Security | Tags: , , ,

Hey Bubbas, check this out:

One absolute way to keep the bad guys out and make your home nearly impenetrable is by installing burglar bars; but is it a good idea or a fire hazard? Like most safety challenges, it only becomes a hazard if you do it badly. “In the old days”, there was basically only one way to use burglar bars, and that was to make your home or office a virtual prison by welding and permanently mounting jail-like steel bars across any accessible windows and doors. The immediately obvious problem was that this set-up locked you in as well as it locked burglars out. With the exception of a jail door type arrangement with a hefty lock on it, most windows and other entry points simply sealed you in.  Even with a keyed lock, it doesn’t take a fire marshall to figure out just how risky and deadly it might be to try to get to a particular exit and then have to fumble for a key while a fire is burning around you and smoke is choking you (and everyone else in the family.)

There are now several good options if you see criminal barriers as part of your  security plan. First and foremost, you must realize that not building internal quick releases into any time of burglar bar system is usually illegal, and simply, completely idiotic.

Installing Burglar Bars: good idea or fire hazard?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. From

Every place I’ve ever worked as a locksmith (California, Washington state, Louisiana and South Dakota) 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.

Charley then quotes applicable fire code in his area (Phoenex, AZ) that applies to burglar bars:

“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.”

Get that? NO KEYED LOCKABLE window bars in bedrooms. Period. In addition to the device he shows, there are also buttion unlocks, pull bar releases, and more. Mount ’em, and check ’em regularly. Teach everyone in the house how to use them. There are several dealers for these things, but you could probably start w/ a local steel fabricator or fence builder. They’re gonna know the exact local codes, and since the raw material is steel, you’re probably gonna save by buying local anyway. Most homes are going to require some forms of custom fabrication, and who wants to pay shipping on steel?

One more thing: install smoke alarms. Seriously. We think that installing burglar bars can be a great idea and NOT a fire hazard IF you take every safety precaution necessary to make sure you are the one whose safety is being enhanced, and not hindered.

Here are some guys in Los Angeles that put in iron fixtures for a living. Here they are installing burglar bars; they show how they put in a safety release latch on their window bars.

Installing Burglar Bar Quick Release


original article from locksmith Charley here.


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