What to Know About Exit Routes
What is an exit route?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an exit route as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of exit access (the space that leads to an exit), the exit itself (which is generally separated from other areas so it protects people using the exit) and the exit discharge (which leads outside to the street, walkway, open space or a refuge area).

What are the requirements to keep my exit route code compliant?
  1. Exit route doors must be unlocked from the inside. They must be free of devices or alarms that could restrict use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails. This includes deadbolt locks and delayed egress (please note, delayed egress is allowed in some applications with the permission of your local AHJ as long as it is tied into the fire alarm and is deactivated in the case of an emergency)
  2. Side-hinged exit doors must swing out in the direction of exit travel
  3. Exits should be a minimum of 36 inches wide with a clear opening of at least 32". The maximum allowed width of a single opening is 48". However, some exceptions allow a clear opening width of 28". Detex recommends consulting your local authority having jurisdiction for guidance
  4. Emergency exit lighting and signs must be provided and must be adequate for employees with normal vision
  5. Exit routes must be permanent, and there must be enough exit routes for the size of the building and the maximum number of occupants. In addition, exit routes should be unobstructed by materials, equipment, boxes, chains, deadbolts or dead-end corridors
  6. Exits must lead to a street, refuge area, open space, or other area with access to the outdoors
  7. Fire labels will be issued through Underwriter Laboratories (UL), Warnock Hersey (WH) or Intertek Testing Services (ITS) in most cases

Did You Know?

Fire exits typically located inside a building and are not part of an external wall or door that leads directly outside. There are a number of rules regarding fire exits and devices:

  • According to Section 1003.3.2 of the 2018 International Building Code, no exit device can project off the door more than 4 inches. Not all door hardware conforms to this, but to be given a certification as fire-rated, it must conform
  • Fire exit devices must be used on fire-rated doors that are self-closing and must re-latch or re-lock when the door locks
  • Fire exit devices must pass industry testing that proves they can keep a fire-rated door locked and secure during a fire emergency
  • Fire exit devices must have a listing or approval label from a third-party listing agency for a specific time rating - typically 20 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes or 3 hours
  • Must not have the ability to be mechanically dogged, which prevents re-latching upon door closure (Note: electric dogging is allowed on fire-rated exit devices)

Detex tests all fire-rated products with 3-hour fire rated doors. A fire-ratings chart for Detex products and their ratings was developed for quick reference.
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