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IBC Egress in Stairwell Requirements

Sunday, April 16, 2017
big city skyscrapers

As cities grow and/or become more landlocked, the only place to go is up. That is why we are seeing more high-rise and multi-story buildings being constructed to account for the limited space. These types of construction can be difficult as it relates to fire protection. One such difficulty is making sure we follow IBC’s egress requirements. Here recently as well as in the past, we have been required to maintain certain clearances within the stairwells as it pertains to our floor control assemblies, standpipes, and hose connections. You can see in the below excerpt that IBC’s criteria does not require these clearances if certain exceptions are met.

Section 1009 of the IBC pertains to means of egress in stairways. The 2015 variation of the code dictates in section 1009.3, “In order to be considered part of an accessible means of egress, a stairway between stories shall have a clear width of 48 inches minimum between handrails and shall either incorporate an area of refuge within an enlarged floor-level landing or shall be accessed from an area of refuge complying with Section 1009.6.  Exit access stairways that connect levels in the same story are not permitted as part of an accessible means of egress.  (SEE EXCEPTION 2)


2.The clear width of 48 inches between handrails is not required in buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2.

You can see, that we are not required to maintain this egress criteria when the building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. The AHJ has the final say, but in the interest of continuous learning; it doesn’t hurt to bring to their attention as we all know that codes change regularly and they may not be aware. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

For more information, contact Ahern today!

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