A drinking fountain mounted on a corridor wall would likely be in the circulation path and subject to the limitations related to protruding objects.

Yesterday’s post about protruding objects raised a related Quick Question:

The IBC section addressing limitations on protruding objects references projections into “circulation paths.”  What is a circulation path?

The IBC defines the term “circulation path” – you can tell that it is a defined term because it is italicized in the code.  The IBC definition is: An exterior or interior way of passage from one place to another for pedestrians. 

The limitations on protruding objects may not apply to a drinking fountain in an alcove, because it would not typically be in the circulation path.

To better understand what would qualify as a circulation path, we can reference the IBC Commentary, where examples are listed including sidewalks, walkways, corridors, aisles, courtyards, ramps, stairways and landings.

The Commentary acknowledges that defining which floor areas are circulations paths – and which floor areas are NOT circulation paths – can be subjective.  For example, if a drinking fountain is installed in an alcove, it would not typically be considered a projection into the circulation path, and would not be subject to the limitations on protruding objects.

The code sections addressing protruding objects are not the only requirements that reference circulation paths.  Other sections include the requirements for detectable warnings, slip-resistant surfaces, the use of exit passageways, and the accessibility of employee work areas and theater performance areas.

Because of the subjective nature of the requirements related to circulation paths, when in doubt it’s best to ask the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).  But given the position of the buffet table in the situation I wrote about yesterday, I would definitely consider the railing supports as projections into the circulation path.

Do you have experience with requirements related to circulation paths?  Please share your insight in the comments!

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