Yesterday I posted some photos of stored materials in an exit access corridor, and asked which code requirement you would reference regarding this problem.  Thank you to everyone who played along!

First, the answer will depend on which code applies to the building.  In most cases you would refer to the fire code that has been adopted for that jurisdiction – most states have adopted either the International Fire Code (IFC) or NFPA 1 – Fire Code.  NFPA 1 extracts many requirements from NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code as well as stating: “Means of egress in new and existing buildings shall comply with this Code and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.”  Many states also adopt state modifications to the fire code requirements, so it’s important to check the model code and the state modifications.  Some states have not adopted a statewide fire code, which can make it very difficult for an AHJ to address life safety issues.

So where do the model codes say that the stored materials shown in the photos are creating an egress problem?  There are several places where you can find reference the storage of combustibles, required width of an egress path, obstructed view of the exit sign, storage too close to the sprinkler heads, or the reduction of egress width, but I think the paragraphs that apply to most situations and result in the least arguments are the sections on means of egress reliability.

In the 2015 IFC:

1031.2 Reliability. Required exit accesses, exits and exit discharges shall be continuously maintained free from obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency where the building area served by the means of egress is occupied. An exit or exit passageway shall not be used for any purpose that interferes with a means of egress.

And in NFPA 101-2015:

7.1.10 Means of Egress Reliability* Maintenance. Means of egress shall be continuously maintai ned free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.

BTW…these are also the sections you would reference with regard to removal of ice and snow from an egress path.

I also mentioned that some of the stored materials in the photo are blocking the fire extinguisher.  Here’s where the 2015 IFC says not to do that:

906.6 Unobstructed and unobscured. Portable fire extinguishers shall not be obstructed or obscured from view. In rooms or areas in which visual obstruction cannot be completely avoided, means shall be provided to indicate the locations of extinguishers.

NFPA 101 doesn’t include detailed requirements regarding the installation of portable fire extinguishers, but references NFPA 10 – Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, which includes language very similar to the IFC.

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