Means of Egress | CRC § R311
In terms of building and construction codes, "means of egress" refers to the path a person would take to exit a building or structure in the event of an emergency.
Before delving into the sections, let's take a moment to understand some important terms:
- Means of Egress: This is the path that people would follow to evacuate a building in case of an emergency. It should be continuous and unobstructed, leading from any point in the building to a safe public space. In the CBC it is defined as "A continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal egress travel from any occupied portion of a building or structure to a public way. A means of egress consists of three separate and distinct parts: the exit access, the exit and the exit discharge."
- Egress Door: This is the door that is specifically designed and designated for evacuation during an emergency.
- Side-Hinged: This refers to the type of door that swings open from a hinge on one side, much like a typical door in a home.
- Clear Width: This term refers to the actual, usable space of a door opening. For instance, when a door is open, the "clear width" is the distance from the face of the door to the stop on the opposite side.
- UL 325: This refers to a safety standard developed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which governs the design and operation of door and gate openers.
- Public Way: This refers to a street, alley or other parcel of land open to the outside air, leading to a street, that has been deeded, dedicated or otherwise permanently appropriated to the public for public use. It is defined as "A street, alley or other parcel of land open to the outside air leading to a street, that has been deeded, dedicated or otherwise permanently appropriated to the public for public use and which has a clear width and height of not less than 10 feet."
The sections of the CRC provided here establish requirements for a safe and efficient means of exiting - or egress from - residential properties. This could involve understanding requirements for door dimensions, floor elevations at doorways, and guidelines for automated garage doors. Understanding these specifications can contribute to safer homes and residential spaces. The key is ensuring a swift and easy exit in the event of an emergency, from any part of the dwelling, without having to pass through a garage.
The requirements for means of egress are in CRC R311. Dwellings shall be provided with a means of egress in accordance with this section. The means of egress shall provide a continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal egress travel from all portions of the dwelling to the required egress door without requiring travel through a garage. The required egress door shall open directly into a public way or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.
Not less than one egress door shall be provided for each dwelling unit. The egress door shall be side-hinged and shall provide a clear width of not less than 32 inches (813 mm) where measured between the face of the door and the stop, with the door open 90 degrees (1.57 rad). The clear height of the door opening shall be not less than 78 inches (1981 mm) in height measured from the top of the threshold to the bottom of the stop. Other doors shall not be required to comply with these minimum dimensions. Egress doors shall be readily openable from inside the dwelling without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.
Floor Elevations at the Required Egress Door
Landings or finished floors at the required egress door shall be not more than 1 ½ inches (38 mm) lower than the top of the threshold. The landing or floor on the exterior side shall be not more than 7 ¾ inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold provided that the door does not swing over the landing or floor.
Floor Elevations at Other Exterior Doors
Doors other than the required egress door shall be provided with landings or floors not more than 7 ¾ inches (196 mm) below the top of the threshold. A top landing is not required where a stairway of not more than two risers is located on the exterior side of the door, provided that the door does not swing over the stairway.
Automatic Garage Doors Openers
Automatic garage door openers, if provided, shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 325. See Health and Safety Code Sections 19890, 19891 and 19892 for additional provisions for residential garage door openers.