Six emergency exit hatches manufactured by The BILCO Company will provide safe, reliable and code-compliant egress for riders of a new transit line that is currently being constructed in Los Angeles.
BILCO, based in New Haven, Conn., also manufactured four large doors to access underground control systems along the 8.5 mile line, which is known as the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project. Plans for the $2.058 billion project started shortly after the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and the extension is designed to better serve transit-dependent residents in the corridor and provide economic stimulus in the region.
Besides subway riders, the exit hatches also support construction workers who are working on the rail line. “Even before there were any designs, the engineering team knew that they needed doors that would provide safe and reliable emergency egress’’ said Dave Pebley of Specialty Building Components, the sales representative for The BILCO Company in Pico Rivera, Calif. “The doors had to meet code requirements, but also stand up to the demands of the job.”
The doors include an engineered lift assistance system and a two-point panic locking mechanism that allow them to open with less than 30 pounds of force. Additional features also need to be added at the ground level where the doors will be installed in sidewalks to ensure reliability and added safety.
To prevent structural damage, the doors are reinforced for vehicular loading to withstand the weight of an occasional car or truck that may drive onto the sidewalk. They also feature a slip-resistant coating on the walking surface to ensure safety in these high pedestrian traffic areas.
For riders and construction workers, the importance of swift egress in emergency situations has never been more essential.
The doors allow for swift egress for subway passengers and construction workers in the case of emergency.
Decaying infrastructure, inadequate maintenance and terrorism have made subway safety a critical threat for subway passengers. In 2015, riders along Washington D.C.’s Metrorail system stopped because of smoke in a tunnel. Smoke seeped into the cars, one woman died, and 91 people were injured. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported 525 track fires in 2015.
Terrorism has also become more rampant. In 2005, terrorist attacks in London killed 52 people and injured more than 700. Since the London tragedy, there have been more than 15 attacks worldwide, including a blast in 2016 in Belgium that killed 20 people. At least two attacks on U.S. soil were foiled.
Construction is also quite hazardous, particularly for underground workers. In a Los Angeles construction project in 1997, a worker was killed in a subway construction accident.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported 4,836 workers were killed on the job in 2015, an average of more than 93 per week. The doors help give workers confidence that they can escape in case of a work-related underground disaster.
“Workers know that with those doors in place, they will be able to get out quickly in the event of an emergency,’’ Pebley said. “The other important consideration is back injuries. They’re not going to produce excess strain on an underground or utility worker.”