• R310
    Emergency Escape
    and Rescue Openings

    CHANGE TYPE: Clarification

    CHANGE SUMMARY: The emergency escape and rescue openings provisions have been reorganized. Separate provisions spell out the requirements for windows and doors used for emergency escape and rescue.

    2015 CODE:

    SECTION R310
    EMERGENCY ESCAPE AND RESCUE OPENINGS

    R310.1 Emergency Escape and Rescue Opening Required. Basements, habitable attics, and every sleeping room shall have not less than one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, an emergency escape and rescue opening shall be required in each sleeping room. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.

    Exception: Storm shelters and basements used only to house mechanical equipment not exceeding a total floor area of 200 square feet (18.58 m2)

    R310.1.1 Operational Constraints and Opening Control Devices. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge. Window opening control devices complying with ASTM F 2090 shall be permitted for use on windows serving as a required emergency escape and rescue opening.

    R310.2 emergency escape and Rescue Openings. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall have minimum dimensions as specified in this section.

    R310.2.1 Minimum Opening area. All emergency and escape rescue openings shall have a net clear opening of not less than 5.7 square feet (0.530 m2). The net clear opening dimensions required by this section shall be obtained by the normal operation of the emergency escape and rescue opening from the inside. The net clear height opening shall be not less than 24 inches (610 mm) and the net clear width shall be not less than 20 inches (508 mm).

    Exception: Grade floor or below-grade openings shall have a net clear opening of not less than 5 square feet (0.465 m2).

    R310.2.2 Window Sill Height. Where a window is provided as the emergency escape and rescue opening, it shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor; where the sill height is below grade, it shall be provided with a window well in accordance with Section R310.2.3.

    R310.2.3 Window Wells. The horizontal area of the window well shall be not less than 9 square feet (0.9 m2), with a horizontal projection and width of not less than 36 inches (914 mm). The area of the window well shall allow the emergency escape and rescue opening to be fully opened.

    Exception: The ladder or steps required by Section R310.2.3.1 shall be permitted to encroach not more than 6 inches (152 mm) into the required dimensions of the window well.

    R310.2.3.1 Ladder and Steps. Window wells with a vertical depth greater than 44 inches (1118 m) shall be equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps usable with the window in the fully open position. Ladders or steps required by this section shall not be required to comply with Sections R311.7 and R311.8. Ladders or rungs shall have an inside width of not less than 12 inches (305 mm), shall project not less than 3 inches (76 mm) from the wall and shall be spaced not more than 18 inches (457 mm) on center vertically for the full height of the window well.

    R310.2.3.2 Drainage. Window wells shall be designed for proper drainage by connecting to the building’s foundation drainage system required by Section R405.1 or by an approved alternative method.

    Exception: A drainage system for window wells is not required when the foundation is on well-drained soil or sand-gravel mixture soils according to the United Soil Classification System, Group I Soils, as detailed in Table R405.1.

    R310.2.4 Emergency Escape and Rescue Openings under Decks and Porches. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be permitted to be installed under decks and porches provided the location of the deck allows the emergency escape and rescue openings to be fully opened and provides a path not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height to a yard or court.

    R310.3 Emergency Escape and Rescue Doors. Where a door is provided as the required emergency escape and rescue opening, it shall be permitted to be a side hinged door or a slider. Where the opening is below the adjacent ground elevation, it shall be provided with a bulkhead enclosure.

    R310.3.1 Minimum Door Opening Size. The minimum net clear height opening for any door that serves as an emergency and escape rescue opening shall be in accordance with Section R310.2.1.

    R310.3.2 Bulkhead Enclosures. Bulkhead enclosures shall provide direct access from the basement. The bulkhead enclosure shall provide the minimum net clear opening equal to the door in the fully open position.

    R310.3.2.1 Drainage. Bulkhead enclosures shall be designed for proper drainage by connecting to the building’s foundation drainage system required by Section R405.1 or by an approved alternative method.

    Exception: A drainage system for bulkhead enclosures is not required when the foundation is on well-drained soil or sand-gravel mixture soils according to the United Soil Classification System, Group I Soils, as detailed in Table R405.1.

    R310.4 Bars, Grilles, Covers, and Screens. Bars, grilles, covers, screens or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings, bulkhead enclosures, or window wells that serve such openings, provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with Sections R310.1.1 to R310.2.3, and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge, or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening.

    (Deleted text is not shown for brevity and clarity.)

    CHANGE SIGNIFICANCE: There are no intended technical changes in the reorganization of the emergency escape and rescue provisions in Sections R310.1 through R310.4. (New provisions for existing buildings are addressed in the next change in this publication.) Specific language related to doors used for emergency escape and rescue openings has been added, but there are no changes to the opening dimension requirements. Because exterior doors are typically much larger than the required dimensions for the net opening, they have always been acceptable for satisfying the emergency escape and rescue opening requirements. The reorganization addresses windows and doors separately to avoid any confusion.

    Section R310.1.1 clarifies that window opening control devices complying with ASTM F 2090 are approved for use on windows serving as a required emergency escape and rescue opening. Window opening control devices are one option for satisfying the window fall protection requirements of Section R312.2. The device limits the operation of the window such that the net opening does not permit a 4-inch sphere to pass through but has a quick-release mechanism that is approved for emergency escape and rescue. Window opening control devices must comply with ASTM F 2090, Specification for Window Fall Prevention Devices—with Emergency Escape (Egress) Release Mechanisms.

    Typical use of patio doors and windows as emergency escape and rescue openings

    International Code Council®

    Emergency escape and rescue windows

    International Code Council®