207 Accessible Means of Egress
General. The 1991 Standards at sections 4.1.3(9); 4.1.6(1)(g); and 4.3.10 establish scoping and technical requirements for accessible means of egress. Section 207.1 of the 2010 Standards reference the International Building Code (IBC) for scoping and technical requirements for accessible means of egress.
The 1991 Standards require the same number of accessible means of egress to be provided as the number of exits required by applicable building and fire codes. The IBC requires at least one accessible means of egress and at least two accessible means of egress where more than one means of egress is required by other sections of the building code. The changes in the 2010 Standards are expected to have minimal impact since the model fire and life safety codes, which are adopted by all of the states, contain equivalent requirements with respect to the number of accessible means of egress.
The 1991 Standards require areas of rescue assistance or horizontal exits in facilities with levels above or below the level of exit discharge. Areas of rescue assistance are spaces that have direct access to an exit, stair, or enclosure where individuals who are unable to use stairs can go to call for assistance and wait for evacuation. The 2010 Standards incorporate the requirements established by the IBC. The IBC requires an evacuation elevator designed with standby power and other safety features that can be used for emergency evacuation of individuals with disabilities in facilities with four or more stories above or below the exit discharge level, and allows exit stairways and evacuation elevators to be used as an accessible means of egress in conjunction with areas of refuge or horizontal exits. The change is expected to have minimal impact since the model fire and life safety codes, adopted by most states, already contain parallel requirements with respect to evacuation elevators.
The 1991 Standards exempt facilities equipped with a supervised automatic sprinkler system from providing areas of rescue assistance, and also exempt alterations to existing facilities from providing an accessible means of egress. The IBC exempts buildings equipped with a supervised automatic sprinkler system from certain technical requirements for areas of refuge, and also exempts alterations to existing facilities from providing an accessible means of egress.
The 1991 and 2010 Standards require signs that provide direction to or information about functional spaces to meet certain technical requirements. The 2010 Standards, at section 216.4, address exit signs. This section is consistent with the requirements of the IBC. Signs used for means of egress are covered by this scoping requirement. The requirements in the 2010 Standards require tactile signs complying with sections 703.1, 703.2 and 703.5 at doors at exit passageways, exit discharge, and at exit stairways. Directional exit signs and signs at areas of refuge required by section 216.4.3 must have visual characters and features complying with section 703.5.
Standby Power for Platform Lifts. The 2010 Standards at section 207.2 require standby power to be provided for platform lifts that are permitted to serve as part of an accessible means of egress by the IBC. The IBC permits platform lifts to serve as part of an accessible means of egress in a limited number of places where platform lifts are allowed in new construction. The 1991 Standards, at 4.1.3 (5) Exception 4 (a) through (d), and the 2010 Standards, at sections 206.7.1 through 206.7.10, similarly limit the places where platform lifts are allowed in new construction.
Commenters urged the Department to reconsider provisions that would require standby power to be provided for platform lifts. Concerns were raised that ensuring standby power would be too burdensome. The Department views this issue as a fundamental life safety issue. Lift users face the prospect of being trapped on the lift in the event of a power failure if standby power is not provided. The lack of standby power could be life-threatening in situations where the power failure is associated with a fire or other emergency. The use of a platform lift is generally only one of the options available to covered entities. Covered entities that are concerned about the costs associated with maintaining standby power for a lift may wish to explore design options that would incorporate the use of a ramp.
207.1 General.Means of egress shall comply with section 1003.2.13 of the International Building Code (2000 edition and 2001 Supplement) or section 1007 of the International Building Code (2003 edition) (incorporated by reference, see "Referenced Standards" in Chapter 1).
1. Where means of egress are permitted by local building or life safety codes to share a common path of egress travel, accessible means of egress shall be permitted to share a common path of egress travel.
2. Areas of refuge shall not be required in detention and correctional facilities.
207.2 Platform Lifts. Standby power shall be provided for platform lifts permitted by section 1003.2.13.4 of the International Building Code (2000 edition and 2001 Supplement) or section 1007.5 of the International Building Code (2003 edition) (incorporated by reference, see "Referenced Standards" in Chapter 1) to serve as a part of an accessible means of egress.