IBC and NFPA Code Compliant Universal Fit Egress Barrier Swing Gates

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The Problem

Finding the exact egress gate you need at the last minute is a real pain—holding up inspection and approval.

  • Exact building codes for this are confusing.
  • Building code isn't prescriptive in saying what you must-have.
  • The local authority has jurisdiction (AHJ) to decide what is allowed.
  • No specific code speaks to design requirements leaving Architects to interpret code and design a custom detail to represent the gate they envision.
  • Contractors end up searching for custom-order egress gates to accommodate individual projects.
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The requirement for means to interrupt the flow of traffic in a stairwell is to prevent people from exiting further down the stairs in an emergency and missing the door to the exit discharge. Signs alone are proven not to be an effective means, but since the building code is not prescriptive in saying what you must have, then the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) is the judge of what is allowed. Metal gates that swing in the direction of egress is the most common type of interruption device.

Whatever device you choose, ultimately have your local AHJ approve it.

THE ONLY IBC/IFC 2018 REQUIREMENT:

1023.8 DISCHARGE IDENTIFICATION AN INTERIOR EXIT STAIRWAY AND RAMP SHALL NOT CONTINUE BELOW ITS LEVEL OF EXIT DISCHARGE UNLESS AN APPROVED BARRIER IS PROVIDED AT THE LEVEL OF EXIT DISCHARGE TO PREVENT PERSONS FROM UNINTENTIONALLY CONTINUING INTO LEVELS BELOW. DIRECTIONAL EXIT SIGNS SHALL BE PROVIDED AS SPECIFIED IN SECTION 1013.
The following are references of 2018 IBC which can be interpreted as requirements for an approved barrier by a local AHJ. Our egress barrier gate has been designed to satisfy your local AHJ by meeting the following code requirements:

1003.6 MEANS OF EGRESS CONTINUITY. The path of egress travel along a means of egress shall not be interrupted by a building element other than a means of egress component as specified in this chapter. Obstructions shall not be placed in the minimum width or required capacity of a means of egress component except projections permitted by this chapter. The minimum width or required capacity of a means of egress system shall not be diminished along the path of egress travel.

1005.7.1 DOORS. Doors, when fully opened, shall not reduce the required width by more than 7 inches (178 mm). Doors in any position shall not reduce the required width by more than one-half.

1010.1.2 DOOR SWING. Egress doors shall be of the pivoted or side-hinged swinging type.

1010.1.2.1 DIRECTION OF SWING. Pivot or side-hinged swinging doors shall swing in the direction of egress travel where serving a room or area containing an occupant load of 50 or more persons or a Group H occupancy.

1010.1.6 LANDINGS AT DOORS. Landings shall have a width not less than the width of the stairway or the door, whichever is greater. Doors in the fully open position shall not reduce a required dimension by more than 7 inches (178 mm). Where a landing serves an occupant load of 50 or more, doors in any position shall not reduce the landing to less than one-half its required width. Landings shall have a length measured in the direction of travel of not less than 44 inches (1118 mm).

Exception: Landing length in the direction of travel in Groups R-3 and U and within individual units of Group R-2 need not exceed 36 inches (914 mm).

1010.1.9.2 HARDWARE HEIGHT. Door handles, pulls, latches, locks and other operating devices shall be installed 34 inches (864 mm) minimum and 48 inches (1219 mm) maximum above the finished floor. Locks used only for security purposes and not used for normal operation are permitted at any height.

1010.2 GATES. Gates serving the means of egress system shall comply with the requirements of this section. Gates used as a component in a means of egress shall conform to the applicable requirements for doors.
Q: Are there any code requirements for the placement (mounting location) of the gate?
A: Building codes do not specifically identify the required location of the barrier. Keep in mind, the requirement for means to interrupt the flow of traffic in a stairwell is to prevent people from exiting further down the stairs in an emergency and missing the door to the exit discharge. The riser of the stair flight, at the stair rail end post is commonly an acceptable location by the AHJ. The path of egress is least interrupted here. If the stair-shaft allows, the stair can be designed to allow the barrier gate to be mounted away from the riser. Please consult with your local AHJ for their interpretation. The local AHJ provides final approval.

Q: What direction should the gate swing?
A: Building codes do not specifically identify the required swing of the egress barrier gate. However, IBC 2018 section 1010.1.2.1 states that the pivot or side-hinged swinging doors shall swing in the direction of egress travel. It's commonly interpreted that that the barrier should also swing in the direction of egress travel. For safety purposes, the barrier shall swing into the landing to avoid persons from falling down the stair. Please consult with your local AHJ for their interpretation. The local AHJ provides final approval.

Q: When should a single or double swing gate be used?
A: Building codes do not specifically identify when a single or double swing barrier gate should be used. If the stair width is less than 50-55 inches, and the swing of the barrier gate does not interfere with obstacles - a single swing barrier gate should suffice. If the stair width exceeds 50-55 inches or the barrier gate is interrupted by a doorway or other obstruction - a double swing barrier gate would eliminate obstruction interference or offer less encroachment into the path of egress. Please consult with your local AHJ for their interpretation. The local AHJ provides final approval.