I know I’ve written about this several times lately, but I saw the perfect example of what not to do during my road trip. If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that there was a change made in the 2021 edition of the International Building Code (IBC), that addresses doors serving exterior spaces, like balconies, roof gardens, and enclosed courtyards. This change allows the doors from the exterior spaces into the building to be locked if certain criteria are met – balancing security and life safety. If you’re not familiar with this change, you can read about it in this article – Decoded: Egress From Exterior Spaces.
The balcony in these photos is located in a conference center. It’s not too high above grade, so yes – you could jump off, but generally that’s not how the egress requirements work. Note the doors with panic hardware leading out to a balcony that has no means of egress other than back into the building:
On the exterior, the panic hardware has lockable lever handles…the panics were dogged when I went out there, but I’m sure they are un-dogged at night. This would allow someone to exit through the doors onto the balcony and have the doors close and latch/lock behind them. The single doors at each end exit out of meeting rooms onto the balcony, and they were locked on the exterior when I was there.
The 2021 IBC would allow the doors to be locked on the exterior, but would require a telephone and signage on the balcony side, a lock that is readily distinguishable as locked, and vision panels (5 square feet) at each door opening. The 2021 edition was obviously not the applicable code when this building was built, so maybe the AHJ agreed to a compromise.