The Means of Egress
Columbia Southern University
The Means of Egress
The means of egress is often times the difference between life and death at any fire incident. If people are to stay alive during a fire incident, they must possess an avenue of evacuating that space in as safe a manner as possible. In an online article by Michael O’Brian, he gave the following observation: the means of egress is critical to the safety of occupants in every occupied structure (O'Brian, 2008). Proper function of an egress system is paramount to the safety of occupants trying to exit a structure during an emergency. According to O’Brian, the means of egress is based on several principles: occupants will have choices on how to evacuate; the system will accommodate the number of occupants and provide some separation from the fire; and the path is clear, illuminated and marked (O'Brian, 2008). The means of egress is a “continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal egress travel from any occupied portion of a building to a public way” (National Fire Academy, 2009). The means of egress has evolved over time due to unfortunate incidents that occurred over the years. Different organizations and associations analyze the data recovered from investigations to determine causes and suggest corrective measures to be instituted in an effort to make structures safer in the future.
Three Components of the Means of Egress
There are three components of the means of egress and those components consist of the following: the exit access; the exit; and the exit discharge. The exit access is defined as the actual path from any point in a building to a fire-rated stairwell (or outdoors), and it often includes a fire-rated corridor (Brannigan & Corbett, 2007). In simpler terms, it is that portion of the means of egress system that leads from an occupied portion of a building or structure to an exit. The exit is that portion of a means of egress system which is separated from other interior spaces of a building or structure by fire-resistance rated construction and opening protectives as required to provide a protected path of egress travel between the exit access and exit discharge. These include exterior exit doors at ground level, exit enclosures, exit passageways, exterior exit stairs, exterior exit ramps, and horizontal exits (National Fire Academy, 2009). The exit discharge is that portion of a means of egress system between the termination of an exit and a public way which is a street, alley, or other parcel dedicated for public use and at least ten feet wide and high (National Fire Academy, 2009). In other words, it is the point that you step out of the exit door (termination of the exit access) and the outside of a structure into a public way.
The means of egress for a structure must be properly marked, visible, and understandable by the occupants of the structure to meet requirements. This standard is from OSHA 1910.36,...