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Thread: Emergency Doors

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    1,201
    Country: United States

    Default Emergency Doors

    There isn't much information available regarding vault emergency
    doors so I thought I'd try to kick up some discussion and maybe
    more images. These seem to have gone out of style by the
    1950s/1960s.

    Rationale: If the main vault door malfunctions then there is
    significant hardship on the bank and customers. A second way
    to enter was desired but not at the cost of a second full-sized
    door, so emergency doors were usually much smaller in diameter.
    But to maintain security they were just as thick and controlled
    with combination locks and time locks. Today main doors are trusted
    enough and breakdowns are rare enough to be an acceptable risk.

    Pros: Business will not be seriously disrupted if the main door
    fails.

    Cons: They are small, requiring somebody to crawl through. This
    would likely be a technician to repair the main door but customers
    would not be expected to make the trip. They are costly, require
    attention similar to the main door (open/close daily, set the time
    locks; periodic maintenance), and they occupy space inside the
    vault which prevents use such as safe deposit boxes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Above you can see that a small-diameter door that is just as thick
    as the main door gives it an odd perspective. It also means the
    crane hinge must allow a larger swing angle to allow the door to
    clear its opening.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Above is an image that clearly shows a crane hinge design which
    allows more swing ("hingeward") than most main doors.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    A frame grab from the Travel Channel's "Off Limits" program showing
    the door at the First National Bank Building in Saint Paul. Note
    the boltwork is rectangular; hence my question, are there any patents
    just for emergency doors?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Finally, a postcard of a Remington & Sherman vault, you can just make
    out the emergency door in the background. It looks like it even has a
    day gate! Also note there was no penetration of the vault for
    electrical power (lights), a cord is strung through the door when open.

    The only patent I know of is US 901,047 which shows a main door with
    an emergency door built into it which solves the problem of wasted
    space inside the vault. I don't know if one was ever constructed.

    Does anybody have imagery, patents, stories, etc.?

  2. #2
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    Dec 2009
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    Country: United States

    Default

    The Carnegie Safe Deposit Company in NYC (circa 1910), now a restaurant called Trinity Place (discussed on Antique-Locks earlier) used their emergency door for a secondary purpose. Rather than making holes in the vault for ventilation, every day the door was opened and a duct installed through the opening for forced-air ventilation. At the close of business the duct was disconnected and the door closed and locked.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    England
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    Country: England

    Default

    Stragely enough, I had to open an emergency door a couple of weeks ago. It was in a well known bank who had the main Chubb door unlocked but would not open. Although there was an emergency door with two combinations locks on, the staff did not have the combination numbers to unlock it !!!!
    Luckily, after a few mins, I managed to get the main door open and could then access the inside of the vault. Having done this, the emergency door could then be accessed and I opened the door by manipulating the combinations to open after removing the lock cover plates. This emergency door was exactly the same construction as the main door but obviously a lot smaller. There was also on the inside of the vault access hole, a very strong grille gate secured by a double keyed Chubb lock. Very glad that I managed to get the main door open or this could have been a bit of a nightmare !!!

  4. #4
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    Dec 2009
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    Country: United States

    Default

    Timbo,

    This suggests a major protocol violation to me. It was my impression that emergency doors were supposed to be opened each day along with the main door (and closed at end of day) to preclude exactly this sort of problem. Or am I being a bit too idealistic/misinformed?

    ---------- Post added at 10:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:56 PM ----------

    I found a very nice image of an emergency door at 23 Wall Street, NYC. This was constructed by J.P. Morgan. Because of copyright concerns I'll just post the link:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyshilife/5452295475/

    Apparently the hinges were adjusted a tiny bit "high" because of wear marks at the top of the door and receptacle.

    The very impressive main door is shown here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyshilife/5452905580/

    Any thoughts on who manufactured them?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    Default

    Wylk, My first guess would be York with Remington Sherman as a second guess. IIRC, York bought out Rem-Sherm, but I think that door was before, probably made in the 1920's. It has a lot in common with the Cleve Fed York door. Using the emergency door for ventilation duct was a fairly common practice. If it wasn't used for that reason, I seriously doubt the door would be regularly opened in many banks. But it should have the same combs as the main door. And that other odd round door postcard is one I haven't seen before. That one was probably pre- WW to overcome the current patented ideas. I have a couple pics of emergency doors I will post as soon as I can. Doug

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    England
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    Country: England

    Default

    Wylk, thanks for the reply. I don't know how often these emergency doors should be opened or even if there are any regular instructions for doing so. This isn't the only one that I have been to with this problem. It's the third one that I have had to sort out and strangley, the same company !!! Obviously to my mind, they don't instruct staff to check these on a regular basis. Stupid really when you can imagine the cost of a full gain entry to one of these vaults.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    SWUK
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    Country: UK

    Default emergency doors

    Timbo you quote
    "It's the third one that I have had to sort out and strangley, the same company !!! Obviously to my mind, they don't instruct staff to check these on a regular basis."

    Im aware the drift off topic I hope its not to far off though!

    Don't you think that its the general standard as ever... it doesn't make money standards of staff training in the security area are lax in many areas. We installed main and emergency doors up till the late 60's early 70's and one UK bank had an emergency door in most of its larger branchs in major UK towns and it would not have happened then as there were strict rules and regular banch inspections of staff and protocols to follow. In as much as if the keys had been out of the key holders sight; the locks were altered. But you are probably aware of this as a locksmith this where most of us spent a lot of time changing locks and altering levers.
    Regards to All Ant

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    England
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    Country: England

    Default

    Hi Ant,
    I think you are right. In the past, all these vault locks would have not only been checked but the combination codes changed on a regular basis. I guess its the same all over now, unless it goes wrong, don't waste time checking it. But in case of vaults, it can be a very costly mistake for just few minutes work.

    Regards
    Tim

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Country: Australia

    Default

    Of the very few facilities with emergency doors at major banks that I worked upon, none where operational when I first entered the building. In some cases staff were not even aware the door existed or what it was for !

    A few moments talking with a manager after a near-lockout on a Chubb Treasury crane hinge door soon rectified that !

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    England
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    Country: England

    Default

    Hi Paul,
    The last one I did, I had to open from the inside by manipulation. Once opened the staff did'nt want to know the combination but locked off the dial in the unlocked position When I told them this door was therefore not secure, I was told "thats o.k. theres a grille gate on the inside".
    As if this is as secure as a proper vault door with 2 com locks on !!!! Takes all sorts I suppose.
    Tim

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