State Demography (R vs. D) and Egress Regulation

Peter Lagomarsino May 25, 2018

Egress window requirements: A comprehensive overview to depict how crucial they are for fire safety

egress regulation

To define egress, it’s a means or place of exit. In the event of a fire, anything from poles affixed to the outside of a building to ropes fastened to window ledges used to offer ways for trapped people to leave. Yet the image that most conjure up is of fire escapes. These exterior balconies connected by stairs or iron/metallic ladders have become an integral part of urban streetscapes in many cities. Interestingly, democratic states in the US tend to play host to a larger number of fire escapes as compared to their republican counterparts. So, one would have a better opportunity of spotting these iron/metallic structures in states like Oregon (say, in Portland) and Washington’s Seattle, while a relatively conservative state like Florida doesn’t have a large number of fire escapes. When considering state demography, democratic states have a tendency to be more stringent with regulations in general, including egress, as compared to the republican states.

Egress window requirements

Here’s a quick look at the differences and similarities between egress requirements in Florida, Oregon, and Washington.

Basement: According to Section R310, the minimum window sill height can’t be more than 44″ above the finished floor. The minimum net dimensions of the egress window are 5.7 square feet (opening area), 20″ (width), and 24″ (height). All three states have similar requirements, while Washington has an added clause under R310.1.1, which allows use of window opening control devices in compliance with ASTM F 2090 on windows that serve as a required rescue opening and emergency escape.

Window Wells: It’s compulsory for the minimum area of the egress well (width x projection) to be 9 square feet, while the distance from the egress well’s rear to the egress window must at least be 36″. This is the same for all three states, with a similar exception, according to which the steps or ladder needed by Section R310.2.1 shall be allowed to trespass at most 6″ (152 mm) into the window well’s required dimensions.

Emergency escape windows under porches and decks: R310.5 allows the construction of such windows in Florida and Oregon provided they can be completely opened and offer an exit not less than 36″ in height to a court or yard. In Washington, egress regulation R310.5 guides dwelling additions and states in case of dwelling additions containing sleeping rooms, each new sleeping room shall have a rescue opening and emergency escape. Where such additions occur for basements, the new basement shall be provided with an emergency escape and rescue opening.

What’s your idea of egress window requirements across US states? Share them here with me in the comments section below. Reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Don’t forget to take a look at my book The Fire Escape.


References “It’s the Law – Egress Window Requirements.”

Window Well Experts. “United States Egress Codes.”

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Peter J. Lagomarsino

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Peter J. Lagomarsino is the author of Confessions in a Crown Vic where he discussed the last century’s development and offered his take on the “American Dream.” He’s the creative dire . . . read more

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