The answer to question posed in the title largely depends on your location, although there are national codes and guidelines that should also be followed.
This topic is fairly dry yet important one. We’ll try to give you just the important highlights without wading too far into the deep end.
The most often referred to code that relates to automated driveway and security gates is UL 325. UL 325 is a code that has been established by Underwriters. UL 325 is concerned with gate safety. While UL 325 is a “code”, it has only been adopted as an “enforceable code” by a few jurisdictional authorities. Automated gate safety is an important issue that should never be overlooked. Any competent driveway gate installation company should have a reasonable understanding of UL 325 and should be able to design a system for you that is compliant with UL 325.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
ASTM also has published standards that cover the manufacture and installation of security gates and driveway gates. Again, a competent automated gate installation company should have an understanding of these standards.
UL 325 and ASTM standards are important guidelines for automatic gate installation companies to follow to ensure that the systems they install are as safe as possible. The last thing any of us want is for a child to be killed (as happened twice in one week in the UK only a few years ago), or for a child to be seriously injured (as has happened multiple times around the world) by an automatic gate. [Learn what the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has to say about gate safety standards]
National Fire Codes
National fire codes should also be followed and competent installation companies will know what these are. The most important aspect of the national fire code is related to what should happen in the case of a power failure.
Local Fire Codes
Regional and local fire departments often have their own code requirements that must be adhered to. Typically, these relate to minimum clearance of the gate opening so that they can access the property in the case of an emergency. Sixteen feet of clear driveway opening for single family residences is a typical requirement. Thirty two feet of clear driveway opening for multiple family residences is also a common requirement.
Fire departments are also concerned with gaining access via key switches, strobe switches or other devices. Another common consideration for fire departments is setback from the roadway. If the gate is not setback far enough from the roadway, it may not be possible for the fire truck to enter through the gate.
Local Building Codes
Regional and local building departments often have their own code requirements as well. Most of the time, building codes are in place primarily to enforce fire department codes and to ensure that the physical aspects of the gate installation are done properly. Many jurisdictions do not require building permits even though it is expected that the building codes are followed.
Electrical codes often apply to automated driveway gate installation. Generally, the electrical supply for the gate will need to be performed by a qualified electrician and, in some jurisdictions, the low voltage control wiring for the gate also needs to be done by an electrician.
Do I Really Need Safety Devices on My Electric Driveway Gate?
No, safety devices on driveway gates really aren’t necessary. Although something tells us the family members of the following people would beg to differ:
- Boy, 12, crushed to death by electric gate
- Girl, 5, crushed to death by automatic 3 ft. metal gate
- Boy, four, crushed to death by driveway gate in Fujairah
Admittedly, we’re being pretty harsh. We’ll cut the sarcasm and get to the unfortunate truth: the above scenarios are not just frightful ramblings from a gate guy trying to sell you more product-they are reality. Automatic gates can be deadly: especially if they are not installed correctly or if safely devices are not installed as part of the system.
At its most fundamental level, an automatic gate is roughly 500 lbs of metal being moved with a respectable amount of force and speed by a mostly mindless machine. If care is not taken to ensure that the system is safe, it is unnervingly easy for someone to be seriously injured or killed by a driveway gate.
Installing it Right
Some important things to consider:
- Nowhere in the gate system should there be a place where a person could get a part of their body caught between a moving object and a stationary object, such as the gate post and the gate, without safety devices to keep them from getting crushed.
- Good gate design eliminates most areas in the gate in which a person could be injured. Safety devices help protect against injury in areas where the risk cannot be eliminated such as between the closing end of the gate and the post it stops against.
- Photo-eyes help make sure the gate doesn’t close or open if there is someone or something in the path of the gate.
- Reversing edges help make sure the gate does happen to make contact with a person or an object – [Learn about the different types of vehicle detection devices]
How Do Emergency Vehicles Enter Through Driveway Gates? – Fire, Police, and Medical Vehicle Access to your Property
Whether emergency responders can get to your property in a time of crisis depends on whether the driveway gate installer that installed your gate knew what they were doing and provided a form of access for emergency vehicles.
In An Emergency
If they were one of the fly by night “companies” and disregarded the need for emergency vehicle access, then first responders will be left waiting at your gate while you are in need of their services, or they will strap a chain to your gate and pull it down.
Either way you are left to potentially watch your loved one’s distress because your gate installer did the project a thousand dollars cheaper than the reputable company that was going to install emergency access.
Emergency Access Basics
The type of access required is based on the local and regional requirements of your area first responders. In some smaller rural areas, it is as simple as sharing a code for the keypad with the fire department.
Most areas, though, require the installation of a “Knox key switch” and/or a “strobe switch”. Some jurisdictions are requiring installation of devices that open the gate after receiving a command from the handheld radios in emergency responder’s vehicles.
So Why Do you Want a Gate?
This is one of the questions a good gate installer is likely to ask you so that he/she can help you design the gate system that’s right for you.
If “I just don’t want passing drivers turning around in my driveway” is the only reason you’ve considered so far, let’s give you a little more food for thought.
Some of the benefits of having an automated gate installed are:
- improved curb appeal:
- increased property value;
- safety for your children and pets;
- and privacy
Automated driveway gates are a good first layer of security. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. If your home has a security gate and your neighbor’s home does not, which house do you think a thief will target first? If you answered, “Not mine”, then you are very likely correct.
Home invasion is another scenario in which having an automated gate increases your security. If the bad guys can’t even get through your gate, they aren’t going to be able to get to your front door. [Discover the types of gate systems that provide the highest level of security.]
With a voice communication system or intercom at your driveway gate, you can decide by talking to a person if you even want to let them in your gate. With a camera system you can visually verify if they are who they say they are.
A driveway gate can drastically improve the curb appeal of your property.
Your gate can be designed with artistic flair and can be installed so that it really makes a statement and offers a grand entrance to your property. Imagine a bronze gate with relief cutout of your local flora and fauna paired with snappy landscape design, lighting, masonry and fencing – your entry way can be greatly enhanced by the addition of an automatic entry gate.
This one’s pretty straight forward: Curb appeal increases your property value and often makes it easier to sell your home.
It’s probably not a big leap to say that the home down the street with the cracked, concrete driveway, dying shrubbery and no gate or a dilapidated gate is very likely to sell for many thousands less than your home with the well-maintained driveway gate framed by smart landscaping or brick columns.
Some insurance carriers will give you a break on your premiums if you have an automatic security gate installed. This is because insurers know your property is more secure and that there is less of a chance that you will become a victim of property theft.
So check with your insurer because saving money month-over-month and year-over-year is so pretty awesome.
Help keep your kids safe from traffic or predators.
With an automatic security gate, you gain a greater sense of security while your kids are playing in the yard, comfortable in the knowledge that they won’t be chasing any balls out into the street or won’t have to deal with strangers ambling into your yard.
Along with perimeter fencing, an automated gate helps keep your pets within the boundaries of your property – something your neighbors are likely to appreciate. In addition, a gate helps keep potentially dangerous animals out of your yard.
Prefer not to deal with pushy solicitors? Stop them before they get to your door. if your property has an automatic gate standing guard, that salesman won’t be able to knock on your door and interrupt your meal.
Also, if you live on a busier street, a driveway gate, along with the right type of fencing, can allow you to enjoy cool nights on your front porch without the prying eyes of passersby.
Furthermore, a “NO TRESPASSING” sign along with an automated gate ensures that your privacy rights are not abused by government authorities.
Of course, to get the best outcome in the design or installation of your security gates, it is vital that you have it done by professionals who understand how to go about this. Most services can be reached through their pages online. An example of a reliable service is Star Steel who specialized in electric gates. Founded in 1986, Star Steel is a family-owned business widely recognized for the professionalism of its workers and quality of their services.
Summing It Up
Regardless of the requirements, a competent quality driveway gate installation company will be able to determine what you need and will include the cost of emergency access in their estimate. While it can be appealing to save a couple thousand dollars by ignoring safety and asking for a system without safety devices, it really isn’t worth the risk to your friends, family, and loved ones, not to mention the financial liability that would be yours to bear if someone was to get hurt by your gate. A professional gate installer will be able to guide you through selection of the proper safety devices for your system.
To speak with one of our gate installation professionals or for a free consultation please call STAR STEEL, Inc at 1-800-960-1123 or visit http://starsteel.com