A while back I posted a photo of an egress door in an indoor soccer arena, which had nets hanging in front of it. I asked my blog visitors to comment on whether they thought the application was code-compliant or not.
The general consensus was that it was not code-compliant but I wanted to find out what the inspectors would say, so I posted a link on the ICC message board and asked the experts to come take a look. And they came!!
One referenced this section from the IBC: Means of egress doors shall be readily distinguishable from the adjacent construction and finishes such that the doors are easily recognizable as doors. Mirrors or similar reflecting materials shall not be used on means of egress doors. Means of egress doors shall not be concealed by curtains, drapes, decorations or similar materials.
NFPA 101 spells it out very clearly:
7.1.10 Means of Egress Reliability.
126.96.36.199* General. Means of egress shall be continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.
188.8.131.52 Furnishings and Decorations in Means of Egress.
184.108.40.206.1 No furnishings, decorations, or other objects shall obstruct exits, access thereto, egress therefrom, or visibility thereof.
220.127.116.11.2 No obstruction by railings, barriers, or gates shall divide the means of egress into sections appurtenant to individual rooms, apartments, or other occupied spaces. Where the authority having jurisdiction finds the required path of travel to be obstructed by furniture or other movable objects, the authority shall be permitted to require that such objects be secured out of the way or shall be permitted to require that railings or other permanent barriers be installed to protect the path of travel against encroachment.
18.104.22.168.3 Mirrors shall not be placed on exit doors. Mirrors shall not be placed in or adjacent to any exit in such a manner as to confuse the direction of egress.
I have found the ICC message board to be a great resource for code questions and just general knowledge of code requirements, but unfortunately the ICC introduced a new message board over the weekend and the previous posts are no longer available. Many of the frequent contributors to the ICC board have joined another board, the Advanced Code Group Building Code Message Board. Check it out!