In part one of this two-part series, the Jacksonville construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law discussed the importance of contractors complying with Chapter 10 – Means of Egress in the Florida Building Codes.
As we mentioned, every building requires the approved means of egress to facilitate the safe evacuation of occupants from buildings in the Sunshine State. Additionally, every constructed building requires a fire safety and evacuation plan that complies with the Florida Fire Prevention Code. Now, we will break down the general means of egress in the Florida Building Code.
Facilitating Safe Egress Through Compliant Construction
There are three vital components of any means of egress system: exit access, the exit, and the exit discharge. The Florida Building Code specifies the building applications required to facilitate these three elements, including:
Ceiling Height: the means of egress requires ceilings to be constructed at a height of 7 feet 6 inches (2286 mm) or greater. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, including certain sloped ceilings and the ceilings of residential units (see Section 1208.2). Other exceptions include the headroom of staircases, doors, ramps, private parking garages, and mezzanine floors.
Headroom and Protruding Objects: it is important that protruding objects only extend below the minimum ceiling height previously mentioned if there is headroom of at least 80 inches (2032 mm) above walking surfaces such as walks, corridors, aisles, and passageways. It is unlawful for protruding objects to exceed 50 percent of the ceiling area of a means of egress. One exception is the use of door closers and stops, which must permit headroom of at least 78 inches (1981 mm) at all times.
Clear Width and Floor Surface: it is unlawful for protruding objects to create a reduction in the minimum clear width of accessible routes. Additionally, all walking surfaces located along a means of egress are required to be slip-resistant and securely attached.
Horizontal Projections: according to the Florida Building Code, any objects with leading edges exceeding 27 inches (685 mm) and less than 80 inches (2030 mm) over the floor are not to project horizontally any more than 4 inches (102 mm) into the means of egress pathway. The only exception is handrails, which may project horizontally 4.5 inches (114 mm) from the wall.
Elevators, Escalators, and Moving Walks: elevators, escalators, and moving walks are not permissible as an element of an approved means of egress in any building except in predetermined cases detailed in Section 1009 of the Florida Building Code.
Build It Right the First Time
Compliance doesn’t end with elevators, escalators, and moving walks, there are other considerations to account for including post-mounted objects, changes in elevation, and means of egress continuity. It is vital that contractors are cognizant of these regulations as well as those detailed above. Failing to comply with the Florida Building Code could result in a suspension of license, steep fines, and even litigation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.