Fire escape stair requirements

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are moving into a new apartment or home, it is important to make sure that it is up to safety standards. Your apartment or home may have a fire escape connected to the side or back of the building that you can use during an emergency. If you have a fire escape attached to your building, you should know about fire escape safety requirements.

Materials and Support

According to the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy, only steel or an approved noncombustible material is allowed for use when constructing a fire escape. The fire escape needs to have the ability to support its own weight plus an additional weight of 45.4kg. per square foot.


The location of the fire escape on the building is important as well. According to the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy, the door and window openings that lead to a fire escape must provide easy access to the fire escape. The location of the access must not put the fire escape or people using the fire escape in the path of a potential fire. The entrance to the fire escape should not pass through an intervening room and should provide a balcony or landing to access the stairs. The escape must also sit no more than 8 inches below the floor level and 18 inches below the windowsill.

Fire Resistance Rating

Because fires may encroach upon fire escapes, the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy have created a fire-resistance rating. Fire escapes should have a fire-reistance rating of at least 45 minutes. Some fire escapes, depending on their arrangement, may require longer minimum resistance ratings.

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About the Author

Noah Kain began writing in 2008 for Baltimore Metromix, reviewing restaurants, music and national politics. In 2010 he had three poems published in "Stevenson University's Spectrum Literary Magazine" and has also recorded albums and toured with his band, Mother Nature's Son. Kain graduated from Stevenson University with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies and a focus in English and film.