Statistics indicate that about two hundred individuals die every year as a result of explosions and accidents in the workplace. Additionally, these same accidents injure about five thousand workers in the workplace. Businesses can spend as much as five billion dollars on fire related accidents. This shocking statistics is actually an indication of what all business in the US spent on rectifying these accidents in the year 1999. The means of egress standards are a code of practice that are designed to ensure maximum [protection in case of fire emergencies in buildings.
The standards were based on the National Fire Protection Authority (NFPA 101). The means of egress can be found in the NFPA 101 in the subsection E part. 3 parts of the means of egress The means of the egress are a pathway from a building to a public area. This pathway must be continuous in nature. In encompasses three main sections that include; • The route of exit access • The exit itself • A way of exit discharge It should be noted that all structures and buildings designed to host human beings must have a means of egress.
The main purpose and principle behind these rules is to ensure that there are fewer instances of danger to the worker or the occupant in the case of a fire. The means of egress also protect occupants from the resulting fumes or smoke that emanate from the fire and they also ensure safety as result of panic from the occurrence of the fire. It should be noted that three means of egress only apply to protection and has nothing to do with property protection. There are a total of seven requirements that buildings must conform to in relation to the latter 3 sections.
First of all, buildings should be positioned such that all the exits facilitate free movement. Additionally, the means of egress must not obstructed by any materials, persons and activities for that matter. The egress must be a key component in all parts of the building and must allow occupation at all times. The second aspect about these three main components of egress is insurance of visibility. Buildings should be arranged in such a way that the routes to all exits are conspicuously located. The third aspect refers to the lighting aspect. Buildings should be such that they provide adequate illumination at all the exit areas.
The fourth requirement is about fire alarms. The means of egress standards require that fire alarms be put in place in order to warn their occupants of the fire. This ought to occur in the event that the fire in itself does not provide adequate warning to the residents of the facility. The fifth requirement is in regard to how the exit routes are arranged. In the event that one means of egress is blocked by the resulting smoke or fire, then buildings ought to have two means of egress. These means of egress should not be adjacent to one another as these will beat the whole purpose of the contingency plan.
The two means of egress should be located as a far way from each other or as far as the building design can allow. Additionally, constructions ought to be done in such a way that one means of egress does not block the other. This means that when fire blocks one route, then the other should be easily accessible to the building’s occupants. The sixth egress requirement refers to means of safety during building construction. Employees ought to be protected during the construction process by denying them access into the building until all the aggress means have been installed into the building and they can be utilized.
In the event that a building has to be modified or reconstructed, then all the exit routes must be usable and available in case of a fire emergency. If this is not possible, then the constructors must provide resident occupants with an alternative route. The sixth requirement also protects constructors themselves; it requires that there should be no flammable substances or explosive substances introduced into the building when there are some occupants within. There should be fire permits, hot zones and fire watch precautions whenever a construction is ongoing.
The last egress requirement is in relation to the maintenance practices of the occupants. Buildings should always have continuous and unobstructed egress. Structures should always have the following facilities in place in order to maintain safety. These facilities must be working well at all times and occupants should avoid giving themselves a false sense of security; • Fire equipment • Fire doors • Exit lighting • Alarm systems • Fire detectors • Automatic sprinklers Egress design
There are a number of unique egress components that building designs should adhere to. In this case, egress routes should be constructed using materials that are fire rated. Additionally, the egress building materials should be protected from all other parts of the building. In case a building has a one to three stories, then its egress must be made up of one hour fire resistant material. In case a building will be made up of four stories or more, then it must have two-hour-rated egress material. Additionally, the fire doors making up the egress must be self-closing
After conforming to the material specifications, egress designs should fall within the following dimensions; the width of the egress is largely determined by the angle of inclination of the egress itself. All egress routes must have a minimum of thirty degrees elevation. This angle applies to all the sections that make up the egress system. During construction, the egress’ width should not be limited by any nearby doors. Additionally, exit doors should open in the direction of the exit direction.
The means of egress should also be designed in such a way that it can accommodate occupant load where the latter term refers to the sum of persons in a particular building at any given time. Means of egress should also incorporate the Floor area to occupant load factor (OLF) ratio. For instance, if the occupant load factor within a building is ten square feet per person and if the floor area is four hundred and fifty square feet, then the occupant load is forty-five people. Means of egress should be designed such that there are two means of exist at each location.
Additionally, they should be placed far away from one another. Building designs should be made in such a way that the storage rooms, lockable rooms and bathrooms are nowhere near the means of egress. The means of egress should also not be placed in an area that requires passage near a hazardous area. Exits must be made as accessible as possible this means that there should be a good arrangement on where the exit is. Additionally, there must be no mirrors or hanging drapes at the exit routes. The exterior section of the egress must be arranged in such a manner that there is a roof if it is likely to snow or rain in that area.
Also, there should be no obstructions at the exterior egress. They should be made up of solid floors which are smooth in nature. The exterior egress should also have some guards on its sides; these sides should be left undisclosed. The exit discharge itself should be constructed in such a way that it gives access to a safe public area. These may include a court, yard or the street. The discharge are must be constructed in such a way that its width is adequate enough to accommodate occupants. Additionally, if there are any stairs there, they must give a direction to the streets very clearly.
The egress headroom should have a minimum projection of six feet nine inches and a minimum height of seven feet six inches. A ramp or a staircase should negotiate any changes to the egress elevation. The egress must be maintained constantly through adequate checks. In this regard, the doors ramps, stairs passages must be reliable. There should be no gaps in the stairs and care must be taken to ensure that the concrete does not crumble. Occupants should avoid placing decorations near the egress. Additionally, there should be no furniture or explosive material in the egress.
Additionally, occupants must endeavor to conduct frequent inspections and tests of the sprinkler systems in the egress. All exits must be marked using colors, sizes and designs that can be easily read by observers. The ones indicating exist must contrast with existing backgrounds or interior finishes. Care must be taken to ensure that the signs have not been covered in any way or that they are no other signs near the exit sign itself. Illumination should be reliable enough in that the total level should not be less than the amount of light emanated by five candles.
It is better to use internally illuminated exit signs. Exit signs must have the word ‘exit’ indicated. They must be six inches long (or more). They must not be less three quarters of an inch. Evolution of fire code history and current functions related to this In the past means of egress have been designed depending on just a few requirements. Most of the time, they used to relate to the nature of occupancy within the building. However, with time the means of egress began incorporating other aspects such as the number of persons exposed to the fire, the nature of fire protection preparations.
Additionally, its design also incorporates other issues such as the nature of the building construction and how tall the specific building is. Elements of code administration, inspection practices and appeals process in code enforcement The means of egress provisions are found either in the International Building Code or the Uniform Building Code. The latter two codes are somewhat similar in nature and they provide the ways of administering these means of egress. In the Uniform Building Code the exit discharge consists of the balconies and exit staircase.
However, the International Building Codes considers the exterior balconies as the exit access. On the other hand, this code defines the exterior stairways as part of the exit. It should also be noted that both of these codes describe the means of egress in a similar format. However, the major difference comes about in the manner of arrangement. The International Building Code has more sections than the Uniform Building Code. Additionally, three is a provision for guards in the IBC. However, the same cannot be said of the UBC. Conclusion
A means of egress is a pathway that facilities the safe exit of occupants from a building and does not encompass property safety. The Code gives specifications on the most appropriate material for an agrees, its dimensions and the other features that must be incorporated to make it safe and usable. Some of these features include the sign and the exit discharge. The Code also gives direction about maintenance practices of the egress. In this case, the egress must be well illuminated at all times, it must not be obstructed and fire response facilities such as alarms must be working in proper order.
This goes along way in eliminating a false sense of security within the premises. References City of Seattle (2008): Means of Egress, retrieved from http://www. seattle. gov/dpd/static/1egress_LatestReleased_DPD_001932. pdf accessed on 12th July 2008 U. S. Department of Labor (2008): Occupational Safety & Health Administration, retrieved from http://www. osha. gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp. show_document? p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=13576 accessed on 12th July 2008 McMahon, D. (2008a): Means of Egress and Emergency Plans, retrieved from, http://www.
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