35.23 - Exits and Exit Access Requirements

September 30, 2009

A. General. Exits and exit access are critical elements for building safety considerations. For purposes of personal safety and emergency response activity, exits and exit access must remain unobstructed and clearly identified.

A-1. Defining Exits. An “exit” should be seen as a continuous and unobstructed pathway that provides a means of accommodating the flow of people to a public way or staging area. Exits include intervening aisles, doors, doorways, gates, corridors, exterior exit balconies, ramps, stairways, exit passageways, and exit courts and yards. Exits within buildings are designed for the number of occupants the building can safely accommodate. As such, any obstructions in exits or exit access will hinder emergency evacuation procedures. Building and fire codes require the full available width of all exits to be available and unobstructed at all times. [ed. 9-09]

B. Access to Room Exits. Aisles and/or walkways within rooms must be maintained clear and unobstructed to allow immediate access to exits at all times. The following criteria applies to various room sizes:

B-1. 49 or Less Occupants. In rooms where the number of occupants does not exceed 49 persons and the area is used as work space, a minimum aisle or walkway width of 28 inches is required. If the room is used as a public area, a minimum width of 36 inches is required. [rev. 9-09]

B-2. 50 or More Occupants. Where room occupancy is 50 or more persons and there is no fixed seating, aisles must be a minimum of 36 inches. When an aisle serves as exit for two sides of seating or work space, the minimum width is 44 inches. [ren. 9-09]

C. Room Exits. The following requirements apply to both employee work areas as well as public access areas:

C-1. Exit Doors. Exit doors and fire doors are intended to provide the necessary means to move from one exit way element to another, while maintaining the fire-rated separation required by code. Never place items in front of, or block or restrict the visibility or access to, exit doors or exit door signs. Never lock an exit door, or restrict re-entry through an exit door.

C-2. Room Exit Doors. Exits from rooms to corridors or other portions of the exit way must be kept clear and unobstructed at all times. A pathway at least as wide as the doorway must be maintained from the exit door to room aisles or walkways.

D. Corridors. Corridors accommodate larger groups and faster flow. The corridor width provided must be maintained at all times, and fire rated doors leading to corridors and stairwells must remain closed. Do not place items in corridors that would obstruct or impede egress (see 35.27). [ed. 9-09]

E. Stairwells. Stairwells are separated from other areas of the building by fire-rated construction to provide a means of egress. To maintain this separation, it is necessary that all stairwell doors remain closed at all times. Never prop open stairwell doors. Do not place any items within a stairwell enclosure.

F. Building Exits. Building exit doors lead to exit dispersal area and/or public ways. A pathway at least as wide as the exit door must be maintained from the door to the public way or yard. Never place bicycles or other restricting items in this pathway.

G. Information. For additional information regarding exits and exit access requirements, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at (208) 885-6524. [ed. 9-09]