One part of physical security systems that is of particular importance is the usage of life safety devices.
Life safety in the context of security is a set of systems that allow people to avoid injury or harm in an emergency or panic situation, with the oldest and most important innovation in this regard being the emergency push bar that bypasses a door lock and allows easy egress.
Modern systems have a range of methods to help maintain a fine balance between ensuring friction-free exit from an emergency situation such as a fire, whilst also ensuring that people cannot use an emergency exit as a way to smuggle people into a building or smuggle stolen goods out.
Panic escape devices are accredited under the BS EN1125 standard but the origins of the device are nearly 140 years old and can be traced back to a tragedy at a magic show.
Victoria Hall, Sunderland was the host of Mr and Mrs Fay, a travelling magic show that was very popular during that time, and at the end of the show, there was an announcement that children holding certain tickets could be eligible for a prize.
This led to a stampede that caused the deaths of 183 children before the door was pulled off of its hinges and more could pass through and escape.
This was one of the first major tragedies in the age of the newspaper and the press, leading to national outrage and an inquiry as to how this could be avoided.
This led the young engineer Robert Alexander Briggs to invent the panic bolt, a lock bypass system that would form the basis of emergency exit doors for nearly a century until a different tragedy highlighted their vulnerabilities.
It also led to changes in the law that required that public entertainment venues have a minimum number of emergency exits that opened outward.