Fire Escape Safety
Why do I need an engineer to say my fire escape is safe?
Around 2011, the International Fire Code was changed. This new and updated code now requires that all fire escapes need to be painted and inspected every five years. The driving force behind the update of the code is that fire escapes are aging, and in order to keep them safe a routine fire escape inspection and painting program is necessary.
Fire escapes are an essential aspect of ensuring you and your occupants are safe. Unfortunately the fact remains that many of the fire escapes you see today are unsafe. The intent of the updated fire code was to address the safety of these emergency exits.
What does the International Fire Code do?
The International Fire Code is not a national law. It is a series of guidelines for building codes. The provisions of the International Fire Code “provide protection for public health, safety and welfare from the hazards of fire, explosion or dangerous conditions in buildings, structures and premises.” The International Fire Code is often used when a state, county, or town updates their local building and fire codes.
The inclusion of fire escapes in the international fire code aims to ensure that fire escapes can be used for their intended purpose, to provide an emergency means of egress during a fire or other catastrophic event. However, because they are not law it sometimes takes state and city governments a long time to incorporate these updated guidelines into their building codes.
Does my city follow the updated International Fire Code?
When the International Fire Code is revised some local governments enact the updated codes immediately. However, when dealing with the government speed is not the norm. Many local governments are on a delay of several years and some have not updated their building and fire codes in over a decade.
While maintaining an outdated building and fire code is not illegal it doesn’t take into account advances in safety which leaves commercial and residential buildings susceptible. Many fire escapes have been on building for generations and in order for them to remain structurally sound a rigorous inspection and certification program should be followed.
What is the recommended fire escape inspection and fire escape certification program?
In order to maintain the integrity of your fire escape system, the International Fire Code states that all fire escapes must be inspected by a qualified engineer. The reason it needs to be an engineer is because they have the required knowledge to know what is and isn’t structurally sound. Once the inspection has occurred any repairs must be completed, and the fire escape system must be painted to seal all joints and ensure continued durability.