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Guardrail on a fire escape?


drw

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Do any of you know if the "four inch sphere" rule for guardrails applies to fire escape stairs on a multi-tenant building? These are permanently fixed metal stairs, not the retractable ladder type fire escapes.

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I don't see a difference between fire escape stairs or regular stairs. If it's a stairway than the handrail on the open side of the stairs must not allow a 4 inch sphere to pass through. Anyway, it ultimately depends on what your municipality has adopted. If they're still on the old 6 inch rule there's nothing you can do except report that it's beyond what's allowed by the IRC or the UBC but it's what's accepted by the municipality.

How old is the building? Don't try to retroactively apply this to an older fire escape or you'll come out looking/sounding like a pinhead. The rule is there for safety, in order to prevent kids from slipping through the railings and falling. That said, kids shouldn't be playing on a fire escape under any circumstances. If they are, the width of the balusters is the least of the parents' worries.

You could point out that the openings are wider than what's allowed today and not make any recommendation, or recommend that they add a fence or interior latticework to make it safer. However, that might send a signal that it's okay to let kids sit/play/use a fire escape when it's not.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

. . . The rule is there for safety, in order to prevent kids from slipping through the railings and falling. That said, kids shouldn't be playing on a fire escape under any circumstances. If they are, the width of the balusters is the least of the parents' worries.. . .

I agree with Mike but I'd like to add one thing. The rule used to be 9". It changed to 6" because people thought that kids couldn't fit their heads through a 6" opening. However they could fit the rest of their bodies through. As I understand it the most recent change from 6" to 4" was to prevent strangulation, not necessarily to prevent falling.

It's a minor distinction, but a memorable one.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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