I had a lot of fun recently trying to meet a customer’s requirement for a 4-foot by 7-foot pair of doors in a hospital that needed to be fire rated and automated. I found that Corbin and Yale (sister companies whose exit devices are almost identical) offer fire rated surface vertical rod exit devices with electric latch retraction that meet this need. The installer will be able to put some kind of little power operator on each 24-inch leaf of this four foot pair and cram two fire rated surface vertical rod devices onto these same narrow leaves. Doubtless it will look odd, but it will work.
Admittedly the whole idea is a bit dubious. True, by having both leaves opened simultaneously by power operators will provide amply more than the minimum 32-inch clearance demanded by the American Disabilities act, but if anyone manually opens either leaf it certainly will not.
Sargent and Von Duprin offer 24-inch fire rated exit devices, but neither offer them with electric latch retraction. It is unfortunately necessary to call these companies’ tech support lines in order to verify this information, since their price lists both show 24-inch possibilities without disclaiming the electric latch retraction option. Neither the Sargent nor the Von Duprin has a note to say the 24-inch device is not available with electric latch retraction that I could see; if that is in fact the case, the buyer is left to beware the exit device order that bounces back because it was ordered with options that are mutually incompatible.
It’s good advice anyway to always call the manufacturer’s tech support whenever there is a question. Waiting on hold is a lot better than storing thousand-dollar exit devices that didn’t work out on the job.
Note: A reader named Rick writes in with this about Sargent electric latch retraction: “Tom, I just stumbled across your site this evening, while doing a search for Fail Secure mag locks of all things (IR says there is one). But I saw your latest article on latch retraction units and had to clarify the Sargent restrictions. These can be found within the catalog pages, specifically the page showing the 56 option (toward the back). It says: