Avoid Blocked Egress Situations: Info About Fire Escape Decorating Rules

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Avoid Blocked Egress Situations: Info About Fire Escape Decorating Rules

If you live in a property with multiple stories that has a fire escape attached to it (usually a cast iron structure bolted into the exterior walls and masonry), then you are likely aware of the rules that exist regarding usage of the fire escape. Those rules are quite strict—basically, don’t use the fire escape at all, unless there is an actual emergency situation that you are dealing with at the time. Using a fire escape for storage or decoration is strictly prohibited.

This means you are not allowed to put any items out on the fire escape that could potentially block people’s path to safety if a fire were to occur and people needed to use the escape. This means no potted plants, no clothes lines, no decorations. People need that pathway to be clear to safely exit the building if it’s on fire. You can be cited for a blocked egress if you place any items out on the fire escape adjacent to your unit in violation of fire escape storage laws in San Francisco, CA.

No blocked egress

One complaint that often occurs in high-rise buildings is people noticing their neighbors using the fire escape to barbecue. There are a couple big problems with this. For starters, the use of the barbecue obviously blocks off the fire escape should it need to be used in an emergency situation. Additionally, the barbecue grill being so close to the building is a significant safety hazard. It can, at the very least, fill other nearby apartments with smoke. Plus, barbecues are supposed to be run a certain distance away from structures such as houses—the distance between the grill on the fire escape and the building it’s attached to is not likely to be far enough away to satisfy that safety requirement.

Fire escapes should never be used for cooking or recreation, so anyone who notices this being an issue on their property should contact their landlord or property manager to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Otherwise, this could quickly become a safety hazard. If the landlord does not respond to the notification, then complaints to the city’s code enforcement department may become necessary.

It is technically legal to stand on the fire escape. So long as you don’t permanently or even temporarily store any items on the fire escape that could block an exit path, you’re okay. However, it’s generally not recommended that you stand on a fire escape, because many are old and in poor condition, and could have breaking banisters or treads, especially if the property owner doesn’t take inspections of those fire escapes seriously. It’s best not to treat the fire escape as a balcony, particularly in social situations—don’t use the fire escape as a smoking room when you have guests over, as the collective weight of people on the fire escape could be dangerous if the fire escape hasn’t been kept in good condition.

For more information about fire escape storage laws in San Francisco, CA, we encourage you to contact Great Escape Fire Escape Service today.

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