Fire Safety & Electromagnetic Locking Devices

Hardware Requirements for Access and Egress (HRAE) is a guideline developed by the Security and Life Safety Task Force, a group of public and private sector stakeholders working in cooperation with the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

The HRAE guideline defines and enumerates different ways of enhancing security while addressing life safety issues. This is a supplement to that guideline. As such it recognizes and does not conflict with the requirements of the B.C. building and fire codes.

This supplement provides building and fire code users with information on the installation and use of electromagnetic locking devices (EMLDs) that do not delay egress. Although this information was developed in response to security issues at 24-hour service stations, these principles are applicable to other occupancies where the owner/designer of a building may choose to use EMLDs to enhance security.

What is an EMLD?

An “electromagnetic locking device” or “mag lock” has an electromagnet body and an armature plate held together by an electromagnetic force. There are no moving parts. The armature plate usually is mounted on the door. A mag lock is not an electro-mechanical device.


The following situations are appropriate for EMLD use:

  • Additional protection for staff
  • Hold-up protection
  • Intrusion protection

Fundamental Requirements

  • As long as all B.C. building and fire code requirements are met, EMLDs can be used to enhance building security
  • The installation of EMLDs must in no way conflict with or compromise basic code requirements
  • In the event of a component/system failure the EMLD must not impede egress
  • EMLDs and their ancillary devices must be compatible and comply with appropriate recognized standards. Evidence of compatibility, on-site tests or verification by qualified individuals may be required by an authority having jurisdiction
  • It is highly recommended that the installing contractor identify the system with a permanently marked weatherproof label. A label, posted on the premises, indicating the installer’s company name, phone number, design/testing company, date of installation and permit number(s), will assist in any verification and inspection

For more information about this guideline, contact the Office of the Fire Commissioner.