MEANS OF EGRESS- A CLEAR PATH TO SAFETY
The means of egress requirements are part of the International Building Code (IBC) that refer to the ability to exit the building and the path to get outside. Every occupied building must have means of egress, but the number of means of egress paths and size differ from building to building.
Means of Egress definition: A continuous and clear path from any occupied portion of a building to a public way, such as an outdoor sidewalk. A means of egress consists of three parts:
1. The exit access – path within the building that leads to an exit
2. The exit – doors to the outside, enclosed exit stairways, and horizontal exits
3. The exit discharge – the route from the exit to the public way
A form of egress can be a: Door, Window (of sufficient size), Ramp, Staircase, Fire escape (multi story buildings)
The number of egress points required by code increases as the occupancy of a building increases. Egress doors must not require a key to open them from inside the property. Any means of egress must be clear and apparent to occupants of a building in the case of an emergency. If it is not immediately apparent, it must be marked as an exit. An elevator is not considered a means of egress, as it may not be a safe exit in the case of a fire or another emergency.
Doors, windows, corridors, and other structures must meet certain size requirements to be considered compliant to code as a point of egress. The exact size requirement may vary according to your state or local code. Doors should swing in the direction of the exit to count as a means of egress.
A review of your buildings’ points of egress should be part of your annual Fire inspection and your Building Department can also assist with code compliance and technical aspects.
Steve Gailbreath, Loss Prevention Consultant, PRM