Emergency Access & Egress
Emergency access and egress are critical during an emergency situation such as a fire. During a fire, timing and quick response are essential to save lives and property. Effective emergency access ensures that fire trucks can reach a building in time to extinguish the fire. Unobstructed emergency egress ensures that building occupants can exit a building to safety.
These definitions help clarify the concept of emergency access and egress:
|Pertinent facilities and equipment remain available and unobstructed at all times to ensure effective fire detection, evacuation, suppression, and response.|
|A continuous and unobstructed way to travel from any point in a public building to a public way. A means of egress may include horizontal and vertical travel routes, including intervening rooms, doors, hallways, corridors, passageways, balconies, ramps, stairs, enclosures, lobbies, courts, and yards.|
Each location within a building must have a clear means of egress to the outside. The following sections offer safety guidelines and procedures for maintaining emergency access and egress.
Corridors, Stairways, and Exits
There must be at least 44 inches clear width of unobstructed, clutter-free space in all corridors, stairways, and exits.
Follow these guidelines to promote safe evacuation in corridors, stairways, and exits:
- Keep all means of egress clean, clutter-free, and unobstructed.
- Do not place hazardous materials or equipment in areas that are used for evacuation.
- Do not use corridors or stairways for storage or office/laboratory operations. Corridors may not be used as an extension of the office or laboratory
A fire lane is an area designated for emergency personnel only. It allows them to gain access to building and/or fire protection systems. Although most fire lanes on campus are clearly marked, not all fire lanes are easy to distinguish. Texas State University - San Marcos has a program in place to clearly mark all fire lanes. An exit corridor and/or stairway is a pedestrian pathway that allows direct access to the outside of a building and/or allows access to a building entrance and subsequent pathways to the outside of a building (i.e., an exit corridor is the quickest, easiest, and most direct pathway for leaving a building.) Because exit corridors or passageways are the primary means of egress during an emergency, employees must follow the safety guidelines outlined in this section.
Do not park in fire lanes or within 15 feet of fire hydrants and other fire equipment.
A fire door serves as a barrier to limit the spread of fire and restrict the movement of smoke. Unless they are held open by the automatic systems, fire doors should remain closed at all times. Do not tamper with fire doors or block them with equipment, potted plants, furniture, etc.
Fire doors are normally located in stairwells, corridors, and other areas required by Fire Code. The door, door frame, locking mechanism, and closure are rated between 20 minutes and three hours. A fire door rating indicates how long the door assembly can withstand heat and a water hose stream.
Always keep fire doors closed. If it is necessary to keep a fire door open, have a special closure installed. This closure will connect the fire door to the building's fire alarm system, and will automatically close the door if the alarm system activates.
Know which doors are fire doors and keep them closed to protect building occupants and exit paths from fire and smoke. Never block a fire door with a non-approved closure device such as a door stop, block of wood, or potted plant. For fire doors with approved closure devices, make sure that nothing around the door can impede the closure.
Never alter a fire door or assembly in any way. Simple alterations such as changing a lock or installing a window can lessen the fire rating of the door.
Doors to offices, laboratories, and classrooms help act as smoke barriers regardless of their fire rating. Keep these doors closed whenever possible.
A closed door is the best way to protect your path to safety from the spread of smoke and fire.
Revised November 2014