Is a means of egress maintenance service important? It might be the last thing on people’s minds when it comes to maintaining commercial buildings. But, it’s certainly not something people can overlook as it’s vital to safety.
What Is a Means of Egress?
Every building has a purpose. Whether the structure will serve as a mall, office space, or other commercial building, it needs entry and exit points. A means of egress is just that — a passable exit path to leave spaces, structures, and buildings. The means of egress must be accessible and comply with the International Building Code (IBC). It must have ample smoke protection, fire resistance, width, height, travel distance, and other technical features.
What Are the Three Types of Means of Egress?
The means of egress include three types or parts. These are the exit, exit discharge, and exit access.
- The exit is simply the portion of a means of egress separated from other spaces in the building. They protect the space from fire. Examples of an exit are a door leading to the outside or an enclosed exit stair.
- Exit access refers to all the travel from occupied spaces leading up to an exit.
- Exit discharge is the travel between the exit and the public way. The public way refers to the approved and established point of safety.
Why Is Means of Egress Maintenance Important?
Is it not enough to establish a means of egress according to the IBC? Why is it important to maintain the means of egress as well? Let’s dive into the many reasons why means of egress maintenance is vital to the upkeep of any building.
1. Ensures Safety in Case of Emergency
Fire safety is one of the highest priorities in a commercial building. In fact, it’s one of the most crucial components of building maintenance that property owners should never neglect. How is this related to means of egress maintenance? For one thing, maintaining exit pathways is vital to preserving life in the event of a fire. Exit points are the primary ways people can leave the building safely without being engulfed in flames.
This is why the International Code Council requires means of egress maintenance to be compliant with the International Fire Code. It’s to ensure that occupants can evacuate the premises quickly and safely.
Apart from fire, there are other emergencies building owners must prepare for. These include natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. Without maintaining means of egress, the occupants may be trapped in the building without escape. This can lead to injury or the loss of life.
2. Keeps People Aware of Exit Points
Part of maintenance includes keeping all means of egress clearly visible and understandable to occupants. If the exits and their signs are not maintained, people are less likely to know where the exit points are. This may not seem important during day-to-day operations but it’s critical during a crisis.
In addition, it’s important to maintain systems that can alert people of emergencies. Keeping fire alarms, sprinklers, exit lighting, and other systems in working condition is a key part of maintenance. Without these, people may not even know that there is a problem.
3. Eliminates Unnecessary Danger
Insufficient or improper means of egress maintenance can lead to potential hazards. That’s because the lack of maintenance can make the structure itself unsound or prone to breaking. During an emergency, casualties may occur not because of the calamity but because of failing structures like walls, floors, and ceilings.
In addition, the failing structures themselves may become the source of a crisis. Instead of people fleeing from natural disasters, they may face danger because the floors are caving in, ceilings are falling, or electrical systems have started a fire.
4. Protects From Liability
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards stipulate that every building must be maintained to avoid danger to the lives and safety of its occupants. It also indicates that the buildings must have free and unobstructed egress from every part of the structure at all times when occupied.
Failure to comply with OSHA’s standards may mean potential liability for property owners. If casualties occur due to their negligence, they may face lawsuits from the victims or their relatives.
Guidelines to Maintain the Means of Egress
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) provides several guidelines to follow regarding means of egress maintenance. The actual maintenance method will vary from building to building. But, the standards any building or structure should meet are similar. They include the following:
- Continuous Maintenance. All means of egress must be maintained regularly.
- Free of Obstructions. All means of egress, including the path of approach and travel toward the exits, must be free of barriers or obstructions. This allows occupants to use the exits in case of emergency instantly.
- Proper Operating Condition of Safety Systems. Automatic sprinkler systems, fire alarms, fire detection systems, fire doors, exit lighting, and other equipment must work properly.
- No Prevention of Emergency Exits. Any system that restricts improper exit usage should not prevent emergency use of said exit. This should be true even when they fail or malfunction.
- Good Workmanship. All passageways, signs, doors, ramps, stairs, and other components must have substantial and reliable construction. It must be made or installed in a workmanlike manner.
Make Safety Your Top Priority
Means of egress maintenance is not always the first thing that pops into one’s mind when it comes to maintaining facilities and buildings. But it’s certainly not something building owners can neglect if they want to keep the building structurally sound. It’s vital to keeping occupants safe, whether they’re employees, contractors, or customers. Moreover, maintaining means of egress is crucial to protect yourself from potential liability.
Are you looking for a reliable means of egress maintenance service provider? Maintenance Specialists Inc. offers the finest maintenance services in the industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 704.405.6000 or contact us online to learn more about our services!