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Escape Windows and Ladders, 3 questions

Discussion in 'Residential Fire Codes' started by Jonathan Shoemaker, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Jonathan Shoemaker

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    I am remodeling a 2 story 4 unit duplex. I am gutting the entire thing and going back new with everything. I am new to the building code book, normally I just build and go, so I am asking a lot of questions so I pass inspections. I have read the building code the best I can and have come up with my ideas, but I need to bounce my understanding off any who will listen. The city's building inspector is less than informative in my building code questions and his knowledge base may be questionable. I am using the 2015 International Bulidng Code book, chapter 1030, and my city has no local amendments.

    Questions One: My plan is to have vertical escape ladder for the two top floors units. I have commonly seen these made out of pipe or sometimes rebarb. I have read the spacing, width, and other requirements. I don't see any requirement to be able to crawl out onto a porch or balcony and then onto the ladder. I don't see any requirements of the ladder in relation to the window ( below or beside ) or that it even needs a balcony to crawl out on first before decending the ladder. Am I missing something? It seems too easy.

    Question two: The current set up of the building has have a window, with a porch/balcony outside of it, and then a rebarb ladder running down the side of the building. The building inspector told me the "balcony" did not meet the definition of a balcony and the rail spacing was off. ( I need to read what a balcony is and rebuild that to definition/code ). He "thinks" the vertical ladder off the balcony/to the side of the window is correct, but he "thinks" that it must have some sort of enclosure at the bottom to keep random people climbing up it. I have not read this anywhere? Does anyone else read it somewhere?

    Questions three: This may sound odd, but I don't want a second door on any of the two ground floor units. I want everyone to enter/exit from one side where all the doors are now. This is for practicality purposes, security, and cosmetic. I would have to add a door to one unit and on the second unit I would have to have steps. The steps would look weird and not go with the rest of the house. It would be like adding trailer house steps to a 2 story house on one side. I plan on using an emergency window for my second exit on both units. Adding a balcony or stairs would be crazy to the first floor escape window, but the house sits high in relation to the ground outside. There would be a drop. Is there any requirements for this 5 foot drop?
     
  2. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Ladder should not e required and advised against it!!!

    Unless the unit itself is required two exits, than those need to be code compliant!!


    What is required is code compliant window out of Each Bedroom.

    Once out the window normally nothing else is required.
     
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    So is this an incorporated city or in a Tx county outside a city ???
     
  4. Jonathan Shoemaker

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    Which questions are you referring to? I am confused. All I read for an escape window a minimum and maximum height from the floor inside the house and a minimum size opening. I can get that to code easy. I feel that once they get outside the window on the second floor, they would need to decent a ladder unless I wanted to make a staircase. Don't think I should require them to jump. As for the bottom units, they WILL have a second exit and it will be a window.
     
  5. Jonathan Shoemaker

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    incorporated city with a fly by day inspection process, if any, depending on the day of the week. I may never get inspected, but could. The process in the works and the city contracts with a person a couple hours a week, two days a week from another town.
     
  6. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    All questions

    No ladder required and would not install one


    Unless it meets minimum code

    One window in EACH Bedroom!!!
     
  7. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    So were any plans required???
     
  8. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    #1 I cannot imagine circumstances where I would require a ladder to be installed. I was not aware this was acceptable in any code.

    #3 We have single exiting criteria for up to 2 storey buildings based on floor area and travel distance. Wondering if IBC has the same...
     
  9. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    The intent is the occupant has the ability to shelter in place until the fire department arrives and can evacuate them. Typical fire department response aims for 10 minutes, but fire separations in buildings are usually measured in hours. This means someone should be able to sit in their unit with the building on fire and wait for the fire department to rescue them without and adverse effects. Note the word should.

    If your fire separations are good, fire doors are good and no one interferes with the self-closing devices most people will be able to make it out of the building safely.
     
  10. Jonathan Shoemaker

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    No plans were required. The building inspection process is fly by day here. i used to be able to pull a permit and never get it inspected, they just wanted the $75 and then left you alone. We have a part time person,a couple hours a week. I think they are gearing up for a full time person.
     
  11. Jonathan Shoemaker

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    How would they exit the emergency window on the second floor in a fire. Would they just jump down to the ground?
     
  12. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Yep or hang out the window, till fd gets there

    Do you normally see exterior stairs on 2 and 3 story houses, apartments???
     
  13. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    With proper fire separations and closures, they should be able to shelter in place until the fire department arrives. They have lots of ladders.
     
    my250r11 likes this.
  14. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

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    What, no elevator?
     
  15. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    Are Texas contractors required to be licensed?

    No sprinklers required?
    Will you be the landlord or is somebody else?
    Is what you propose acceptable to the local fire insurance adjuster?
    Does local fire review your plans?
    How old are the existing duplexs?
    Is this a 4plex (as in 4units) or two (2) duplexs = 4 units?
    What are the unit square footages?
     
  16. PJC89

    PJC89 Well-Known Member

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  17. PJC89

    PJC89 Well-Known Member

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    I think the idea is that they use the open stair within the dwelling to gain access to the front door and therefore the exterior. Many people do have portable roll down ladders within their home to allow for egress. If they don't, it is certainly a valuable investment.
     

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