How to Inspect a Fire Escape

fire escape image by Aaron Kohr from

Most people don't realise that a fire escape must be inspected at least every five years to check the escape's structural integrity. You might hope that a fire doesn't occur in your home; but if it does, you'll want your fire escape to be sound for those people seeking safety.

There are laws in most jurisdictions that make sure your fire escape complies with the fire code in your community.

Check your fire escape frequently, particularly if it is old. Make sure that the treads are fastened properly and will not fail under the weight of someone using the fire escape. Often, an examiner will direct that some or all of the treads be replaced, especially if they are made of wood and are susceptible to gnawing animals. If they are made of metal and they are not rusted, the examiner might require that additional welds or bolts be added.

Inspect where your fire escape is affixed to the ground. If your wooden or metal fire escape is set in concrete, see if there is any erosion of the concrete itself; or if some if the concrete-work is compromised, replace it. Some fire escapes are flush to the ground. You should replace the beams that keep the fire escape steady if they are rusted, gnawed by animals or are weather-worn.

Keep your fire escape painted to prevent rusting if it is made of metal. If it is made of wood, painting it will keep your fire escape from decaying, a common occurrence with older structures.

Make sure your fire escape is tight to the walls of your house. Extreme weather causes it to expand and contract, which might result on it coming away from the walls.

Make a appointment with either a registered engineer or other professional if you choose not to do the inspection yourself. If that person finds that your fire escape complies with the standards set by your community, he will issue an inspection certificate that will be filed with your community. If problems exist with your fire escape, the inspector will issue you a report that sets out the violations and ways they can be corrected. The inspector also will provide you pictures that show those violations.