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Texas Health & Safety Code - Section 791.012. Minimum Specifications For Exterior Stairway Fire Escapes

Legal Research Home > Texas Laws > Health & Safety Code > Texas Health & Safety Code - Section 791.012. Minimum Specifications For Exterior Stairway Fire Escapes

§ 791.012. MINIMUM SPECIFICATIONS FOR EXTERIOR STAIRWAY FIRE ESCAPES. (a) An exterior stairway fire escape is a structure that: (1) is located on the exterior of a building; (2) is constructed of iron, steel, or reinforced concrete; and (3) consists of balconies and stairways. (b) An exterior stairway fire escape may be constructed in: (1) superimposed form; (2) straight run form; (3) superimposed form with intermediate balconies; or (4) a combination of those forms. (c) The balconies for a superimposed form stairway fire escape attached to the building at two or more floors must equal in length the horizontal length of the stair runs plus an amount at each end equal to the width of the stairs. Each balcony must be as long as the width of the exit opening in the building wall and must be at least 50 inches wide inside the balcony railings. (d) The balconies for a superimposed form stairway fire escape with intermediate balconies attached to the building at two or more floors must be at least equal in width to the combined width of the stairways connected by the balconies leading both up and down. The landings at the head and foot of the stairs must be as deep as the width of the stairs and as long as the width of the exit opening in the building wall. (e) The balconies for a straight run form stairway fire escape must be at least equal in width to the width of the stairs and as long as the width of the exit opening in the building wall. (f) The floor of an iron or steel balcony must be either solid or slatted. If solid, the floor must have a scored surface to prevent slipping and, to provide drainage, must be pitched at a slope of not less than one-half inch in 10 feet. If slatted, the slats may not be placed more than three-quarters inch apart and must be secured with rivets or bolts. Material used in the floor must be at least three-sixteenths inch thick. (g) The railing enclosures of a balcony must be at least two feet nine inches high. If of vertical and horizontal slat or grill construction, a space between slats or within the grill may not have a horizontal width of more than eight inches. If of truss construction, the span of a panel may not exceed three feet. An opening in the railing enclosures on any type of construction may not exceed two square feet. A railing enclosure must be free throughout its length from obstructions that tend to break handholds, and the passage space must be smooth and free from obstructions or projections. A railing enclosure must be designed to withstand a horizontal pressure of 200 pounds per running foot of railing without serious deflection. (h) A balcony must be anchored to the building with bolts at least one inch in diameter, extending through the wall of the building and provided with a wall bearing plate on the interior that is at least five inches square and three-eighths inch thick, or must be anchored by such bolts set in concrete or masonry or made integral in new buildings. A balcony may not be placed above or more than one foot below the top of the sill of the exit opening in the building wall and preferably should be level with the sill. (i) A concrete balcony must meet the requirements of this section and must be made of reinforced concrete composed of one part cement, two parts sand, and four parts stone or gravel. The railing enclosure of a concrete balcony must meet the specifications of this section or be made of reinforced concrete, with balusters spaced not more than one foot apart. (j) The pitch of a fire escape stairway may not exceed 45 degrees. (k) The stairway treads must be at least eight inches wide, excluding nosings, and at least 24 inches long. Treads must be placed so that the rise, either open or closed, does not exceed eight inches. If solid, treads must have a scored surface. If slatted, the slats must be placed not more than three-quarters inch apart and be well secured by bolts or rivets. Material used in the treads must be at least three-sixteenths inch thick. (l) Railings must be provided on both sides of stairs. The railings must be at least two feet nine inches high, measured vertically from the center of the stair treads, and must be supported by balusters spaced not more than one foot apart. If an intermediate rail is provided, it shall be provided halfway between the top rail and the stair stringers and the balusters must be placed not more than five feet apart. Stair railings must permit at least 24 inches of unobstructed passageway and must be designed to withstand a horizontal pressure of 200 pounds per running foot of railing without serious deflection. (m) Concrete stairs must comply with the requirements of this section and must be made of reinforced concrete composed in the same mix as provided by Subsection (i). Railing enclosures for concrete stairs must be either as provided by Subsection (g) or of reinforced concrete balustrade with balusters spaced not more than one foot apart. (n) Stairways must be built stationary to grade where possible and must be built stationary to grade for buildings such as schools or hospitals. (o) If a fire escape terminates over a street, alley, private driveway, or other similar situation and terminates in a hinged and counterbalanced section of stairway, the construction of that section of stairs must conform to the stationary parts of the stairway and must be balanced so that the weight of one person on the third or fourth tread will lower the stairway to the landing. Bearings for counterbalanced stairs must be either bronze bushings or have sufficient clearance to prevent sticking caused by corrosion. A latch or lock may not be attached to the counterbalanced stairs in the up position, but a latch must be provided to hold the stairs in the down position when they have been swung to the ground. The connection between stair railings on the stationary part of the stairway and the counterbalanced part of the stairway must be designed to prevent the probability of injury to persons who use the fire escape. If necessary, a suitable opening must be provided in any awning, roof, or other intervening obstruction to admit the counterbalanced stairs and permit the passage of persons on the stairs. (p) The fire escape must be connected to the roof of the building to which it is attached. If the roof of the building is designed in such a way that escape by way of the roof may be necessary, the fire escape must extend to the roof. If the connection is only for use by the fire department, it must be made with a gooseneck-type ladder with stringers made of material at least three-eighths inch thick, and rungs at least three-quarters inch in diameter, 16 inches long, and not more than 14 inches apart. The ladder must be anchored to the wall. (q) The minimum unobstructed width of an exterior passageway in the fire escape, whether parallel to the building or at right angles to it, is 24 inches. (r) The clearance at all points on balconies and stairs, as measured vertically, must be at least six feet six inches. Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989.

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Last modified: August 11, 2007