Ontario Building Code Automatic Locking Provision


John Cooper of Stoney Creek, Ontario, has written in with a concern about an Ontario Building Code exemption that may be putting university and college students with disabilities at risk.

Article, “Automatic Locking Prohibition,” of the code states that: “(1) Except for hotels, a door opening onto a public corridor which provides access to exit from a suite shall be designed not to lock automatically.” Such doors such as described above must be fitted with locks that need to be relocked manually when a person exits the suite, with hotel rooms being an exception.

Cooper points out that many university and college residences are classifying themselves as hotels and ignoring the safety regulations. “The dispensation is based on the theory that, like a hotel, there is an attendant available at the residence entrance to assist students locked out of their rooms, etc.,” Cooper writes.

“Not addressed by the dispensation is an emergency situation, such as a smoldering fire, filling the corridors with blinding smoke, students locked out of their residence, and the desk attendant unable or unwilling to reach them.” In a such a situation, students with disabilities might be even more at risk because of their need for assistance.

“Why is this situation allowed when there are locks on the market to prevent this type of possible catastrophe?”

Cooper hopes to spread awareness about this issue and increase safety for post-secondary students living in residences.


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