Earlier this week I wrote about dead end corridors as requested by one of our specwriters.  Joel Niemi left a comment that I think is worth sharing, as it’s related to a pretty common situation.

Many schools have removed the doors from their multi-stall restrooms, as a way of deterring smoking and whatever else goes on in school bathrooms these days.  Joel commented that some AHJs consider these bathrooms without doors to be subject to the dead end corridor limitations, and I think that makes sense.  Remember, the reasons for these limits are a) to prevent a building occupant from heading down a long corridor looking for an exit, only to find a dead end, and b) to reduce the risk of a building occupant being trapped by a fire blocking their only exit.

In this floor plan, the blue dot represents the beginning of the dead end, which is the location where a building occupant has access to two exits.  Without doors on the restrooms, the dead end would extend into the common hallway and to the far point within the restroom.  If the restrooms had doors, the dead end would only be measured from the blue dot to the wall/door of the janitor’s closet.

In schools with sprinkler systems, the length of the dead end corridor could be up to 50 feet, but in schools without sprinkler systems the limit would be 20 feet.  This application could also be a problem in very large restrooms without doors, such as those in airports or stadiums.

If you don’t think restrooms could become dead ends in an emergency, review some of the past fires where victims were discovered within the restrooms.  Were they seeking shelter from the fire or searching for an exit?  Maybe a little of both.

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