View Full Version : Egress from electrical equipment

January 20th, 2012, 13:20
Many large service panels have hinged doors that lock open perpendicular to the gear. With minimal working space provided, these doors can prevent escape from arching equipment.
I recall a requirement for a minimum 24" clearance around such doors but I can not find the code section.
Am I looking in the wrong book?

January 20th, 2012, 13:30
Both the NEC and the IBC require that equipment rated at greater than 1200 amps have doors serving the room at least 24 inches in width that swing in the direction of travel as well as have panic hardware. Is this what you're looking for?

January 20th, 2012, 13:37
No. I'm looking for a requirement to have a minimum of 24" clearance to get around a metal door attached to the service equipment and held open without having to touch that door which may be energized.
If the equipment is aching and you have a door open on each side of you blocking your escape, what do you do?
If you can't get away from the gear without touching it, you can't get away.

January 20th, 2012, 13:38
110.26 (C) (2) 2008 nec

north star
January 20th, 2012, 13:38
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The depth of the working space(s) around these electrical components is
in Article 110.26(A)(1) & Table 110.26(A)(1), ...`08 NEC.

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January 20th, 2012, 13:54
Do you feel these code sections clearly include the distance around an open door?

north star
January 20th, 2012, 14:00
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"Do you feel these code sections clearly include the distance around an open door?"Yes!.......The minimum distance is 3 ft. from the front of the electrical equipment......Also, Article 110.26(A)(2)
provides for a minimum of 30 inches of working space from each panel.......They can always have more working
clearance space, but in no case should there be any less than these listed minimums.

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January 20th, 2012, 14:16
My question is this:
The required clearance is 3 ft from the front of the equipment.
If the gear has a 3 ft door that latches in the open position perpendicular to the front of the equipment, is the working clearance now 6 ft from the front of the equipment? Is the front of the equipment now the edge of the open door?
I fully agree with this application and interpretation, but I do not feel these code sections clearly express that requirement.

January 20th, 2012, 14:22
Excelent point retire09.

north star
January 20th, 2012, 14:28
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From the `08 NEC, Article 110.26(A)(2): " ...In all cases, the working space must be
of sufficient width, depth and height to permit all equipment doors to open 90
degrees......I agree that the wording in ambiguous [ in the NEC ].

The working space is measured [ typically ] to the front of the equipment and not
to an open panel door [ <--- from Article 110.26(A)(1) ].

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January 20th, 2012, 14:42
I think it would be a stretch to call the working space from the front edge of the open door. I understand your concern, but don't think you can get the from working clearances. JMHO

January 20th, 2012, 15:00
Greetings all,
In all of my years as a master electrician I have never heard of requiring measuring the clearance from the front of the door swing. I wouldn't go to the witness stand with that interpretation of the NEC or IBC.


January 20th, 2012, 16:45
Is this egress clearance around the open door not an obvious safety need that should be required regardless of how the code actually reads?
I feel that requiring this will absolutely meet the purpose and intent of the code and not to require it would fail to meet the intent.
Do we make it safe and functional or just compliant to the book as written?

north star
January 20th, 2012, 17:02
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Absolutely, ..."safe and functional" !

From [ `08 NEC ] Article 90.1 - Purpose: The purpose of this Code is the practical
safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of

Are you the AHJ, ...designer, ...other?.....Your scenario seems like a no-brainer to me...
increase the working clearance.....Width & depth!

& &

mark handler
January 20th, 2012, 17:12
Article 110 Part II addresses the means of entrance and egress for an electrical room. In electrical rooms more than 6 ft wide with equipment rated 1,200 amps and above, there must be one means of egress at each end of the room. The doors must be a minimum of 2 ft wide and 6.5 ft high. The doors should swing out of the room and have panic hardware

http://www.csemag.com/uploads/RTEmagicC_CSE1103FPROTECT_FIG5_01_txdam4408_546d08 .jpg.jpg

January 20th, 2012, 17:26
I am the AHJ and I communicated this requirement before I posted the question.
I just wanted to know that I was not alone in my thinking.
This is not the first or the last time I will be accused of enforcing what I want instead of what the code says.
Thanks for the help.

January 20th, 2012, 17:48
let's not forget to remind those that squeak the loudest, that the code is a minimum standard. so many contractors freak when asked simply to "comply with the code", and asking for more can often times be a red herring, however, it is, at a starting point, a minimum standard. "professional contractors" need to get a clue!

georgia plans exam
January 20th, 2012, 17:56
Do we make it safe and functional or just compliant to the book as written?

Compliant to the book as written.


January 20th, 2012, 18:38
I am the AHJ and I communicated this requirement before I posted the question.
I just wanted to know that I was not alone in my thinking.
This is not the first or the last time I will be accused of enforcing what I want instead of what the code says.
Thanks for the help.

but does this go outside the scope of your office?

January 20th, 2012, 19:17
I'm with GPE, sorry. I want safe installations, but creating code on the fly doesn't work with me. If you end up with your Board of Appeals, I think you will be on the losing end. JMHO

January 20th, 2012, 20:34
I see this very simply as being the right thing to do. This just makes sense to me.
If I'm over ruled; at least I tried.
I don't always win but I do always try.


January 20th, 2012, 22:42
Good luck........seriously, I appreciate the commitment. Just don't agree.

January 21st, 2012, 00:14
110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment.
Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electrical equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.

You can't store a mop bucket in the electrical room because that would impede access but an equipment door that blocks the exit access at the critical moment is legal? The code doesn't require two exits until 1200 amps. Is a 1000 amp service with one exit access, that can be blocked by an equipment door, sufficient and safe? I don't think so and 110.26 provides a remedy.

You don't want to become http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGZf9XeR7O0&NR=1

Gregg Harris
January 21st, 2012, 01:36
I believe that the have tried to address the issue and the intent is there in 110.26(A)(1) in referencing the depth to open panel to 90 Degrees an 110.33 entrance to enclosures and access to working space by giving the 24 wide by 6 and1/2 feet and then using 110.33(1)(a) unobstructed exit. If they were to be combined the intent would be to have a clear unobstructed path from the edge of the equipment panel to the exit door with panic hardware.

Francis Vineyard
January 21st, 2012, 13:24
Assuming the equipment in question is 1200 amp or more with a 3 ft. wide door.

What the code says is there can be a single entrance provided that there is an unobstructed way of exit travel. My spin on this if opening the panel or door obstructs the path to the entrance (access) then another exit is required. The entrance or access to the room is not necessarily the exit. Otherwise on both sides of the equipment you need clear access or an entrance (exit).

As Gregg said the second exception is there is at least 6 ft. of clearance in front and the entrance (exit) is at least 3 ft. away, hence a 3 ft. clear path around the door.

To install equipment with a door in the manner previously described goes against the grain of safe design.


It's confusing to try and explain NFPA with ICC terminology.

January 22nd, 2012, 10:14
It's not always the Electrical contractor or designer; sometimes it the architect who can't make outswinging doors work, and doesn't want to make the electrical room bigger.

north star
January 23rd, 2012, 09:54
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IMO, most of all, you do not want someone to get electrocuted by poor design
of the space.......If the Board of Appeals will sign off on this [ potential ] liability,
then you will have tried.....Good luck & let us know how it turns out.

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Paul Sweet
January 23rd, 2012, 13:35
Could IBC 1005.2 be applied? "Doors in any position shall not reduce the required width by more than one-half."

April 4th, 2012, 10:06
My company is engaged in designing replacement switchgear in an existing room. The room is over 34 feet long and about 15 feet wide. The new switchgear is going to be perpendicular to the short end (5'), creating a deadend back space behind the equipment. As I understand the NEC, under 110.26(C)(2) requires two separate doors out of the space, specifically to provide a way out if someone is behind the equipment. The IBC (International Building Code) 2009 also has similar language in it, under 1008.1.10.

My concern is the building code requires that egress doors from rooms be not less than 32" clear width (IBC 1008.1.1), which is achieved with a 36" wide door, while the NEC states that a 24" wide door is sufficient, under 110.26(C)(2).

My electrical engineer is saying that I should adhere to the NEC requirement, while I professionally feel the most restrictive code should govern, forcing the door width to be 36". It should be noted that in providing a 36" door, additional reconfiguration of the space and other items must be done. We are a self-AHJ entity.

What is your opinion - should the door, with panic hardware and a 2 hour fire-rating, be the 36" as required by IBC or 24" as indicated by the NEC?

April 4th, 2012, 10:23
32" clear width is required.

north star
April 4th, 2012, 11:21
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" gbhammer " is correct!....The 32" width is the minimum requirement.

102.1 General. Where there is a conflict between a general requirement and
a specific requirement, the specific requirement shall be applicable........Where,
in any specific case, different sections of this code specify different materials,
methods of construction or other requirements, the most restrictive shall

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