The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum means of egress regulations for qualified historical buildings or properties. The CHBC requires enforcing agencies to accept reasonably equivalent alternatives to the means of egress requirements in the regular code.
The intent of these regulations is to provide an adequate means of egress.
Every qualified historical building or portion thereof shall be provided with exits as required by the CHBC when required by the provisions of Section 8-102.
The enforcing agency shall grant reasonable exceptions to the specific provisions of applicable egress regulations where such exceptions will not adversely affect life safety.
Existing door openings and corridor widths of less than dimensions required by regular code shall be permitted where there is sufficient width and height for the occupants to pass through the opening or traverse the exit.
Existing stairs having risers and treads or width at variance with the regular code are allowed if determined by the enforcing agency to not constitute a distinct hazard. Handrails with nonconforming grip size or extensions are allowed if determined by the enforcing agency to not constitute a distinct hazard.
The front or main entry doors need not be rehung to swing in the direction of exit travel, provided other means or conditions of exiting, as necessary to serve the total occupant load, are provided.
Existing previously approved fire escapes and fire escape ladders shall be acceptable as one of the required means of egress, provided they extend to the ground and are easily negotiated, adequately signed and in good working order. Access shall be by an opening having a minimum width of 29 inches (737 mm) when open with a sill no more than 30 inches (762 mm) above the adjacent floor, landing or approved step.

New fire escapes and fire escape ladders which comply with this section shall be acceptable as one of the required means of egress. New fire escapes and new fire escape ladders shall comply with the following:

  1. Access from a corridor shall not be through an intervening room.
  2. All openings within 10 feet (3048 mm) shall be protected by three-fourths-hour fire assemblies. When located within a recess or vestibule, adjacent enclosure walls shall be of not less than one-hour fire-resistive construction.
  3. Egress from the building shall be by a clear opening having a minimum dimension of not less than 29 inches (737 mm). Such openings shall be openable from the inside without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort. The sill of an opening giving access shall not be more than 30 inches (737 mm) above the floor, step or landing of the building or balcony.
  4. Fire escape stairways and balconies shall support the dead load plus a live load of not less than 100 pounds per square foot (4.79 kN/m2) and shall be provided with a top and intermediate handrail on each side. The pitch of the stairway shall not exceed 72 degrees with a minimum width of 18 inches (457 mm). Treads shall not be less than 4 inches (102 mm) in width, and the rise between treads shall not exceed 10 inches (254 mm). All stair and balcony railings shall support a horizontal force of not less than 50 pounds per lineal foot (729.5 N/m2) of railing.
  5. Balconies shall not be less than 44 inches (1118 mm) in width with no floor opening other than the stairway opening greater than 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) in width. Stairway openings in such balconies shall not be less than 22 inches by 44 inches (559 by 1118 mm). The balustrade of each balcony shall not be less than 36 inches (914 mm) high with not more than 9 inches (287 mm) between balusters.
  6. Fire escapes shall extend to the roof or provide an approved gooseneck ladder between the top floor landing and the roof when serving buildings four or more stories in height having roofs with less than 4 units vertical in 12 units horizontal (33.3 percent slope). Fire escape ladders shall be designed and connected to the building to withstand a horizontal force of 100 pounds (445 N) placed anywhere on the rung. All ladders shall be at least 15 inches (381 mm) wide, located within 12 inches (305 mm) of the building. Ladder rungs shall be 3/4 inch (19.1 mm) in diameter and shall be located 12 inches (305 mm) on center. Openings for roof access ladders through cornices and similar projections shall have minimum dimensions of 30 inches by 33 inches (762 by 838 mm).

    The length of fire escapes and exit ladder devices shall be limited to that approved by the building official based on products listed by a recognized testing laboratory.

  7. The lowest balcony shall not be more than 18 feet (5486 mm) from the ground. Fire escapes shall extend to the ground or be provided with counterbalanced stairs reaching to the ground.
  8. Fire escapes shall not take the place of stairways required by the codes under which the building was constructed.
  9. Fire escapes shall be kept clear and unobstructed at all times and maintained in good working order.
Basements in dwelling units and every sleeping room below the fourth floor shall have at least one openable window or door approved for emergency escape which shall open directly into a public street, public way, yard or exit court. Escape or rescue windows or doors shall have a minimum clear area of 3.3 square feet (0.31 m2) and a minimum width or height dimension of 18 inches (457 mm) and be operable from the inside to provide a full, clear opening without the use of special tools.
The height of railings and guard railings and the spacing of balusters may continue in their historical height and spacing unless a distinct hazard has been identified or created by a change in use or occupancy.
Resources