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  1. #1
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    Default Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Sometimes I think the City of Philadelphia operates under a completely separate list of rules and requirements. These two bedrooms are in the basement level area of a condo and the building renovation is only a few years old. I stated the safety hazards associated with the windows and burglar bars but the buyer was unfazed. There's only so much you can do.







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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    I know what you mean, Nick.
    I also point out to the buyer that, unless they plan on living there for the rest of their lives, this may come back to bite them when they sell.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    It's all you can do John. Unfortunately, I can't see things changing downtown unless somebody dies as a result of these setups. This 2 floor condo has well under 2,000 sq ft of space is selling for over $1,000,000. These are the only two bedrooms in it too. Can you image if the City finally wanted to get serious about this stuff and enforce rules? This unit would have no rooms that could be called bedrooms, not that you can really call these bedrooms now.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Nick - The City of Philadelphia is not unique for this type of condition . I have seen the same condition in Boston, NYC, D.C., San Francisco,Chicago.,...
    The issue is that many of these type of units were constructed in conformance with the regulations that were in place at the time that they were constructed. Every time the codes change , such as requiring a specific bedroom window configuration for egress , there is no requirement that existing units change. I do not know what rules you would have the City enforce
    Rather that stating that it is a safety hazard, suggestions to improve the egress might be more appropriate. This condition is easily resolved by hinging the window grates, changing the window style to a egress style window, and adding a permanent stair or ladder at the window.
    I couldn't disagree more Jim and will always choose to err on the side of caution and protecting my own butt when a safety hazard like this exists. Yes, they could change to egress style windows but they will drop at least $5,000 per window to do this and with the building being a condo building in the city with limited exterior space to work with, the costs would likely be at least double.

    If an interior stair or ladder is an acceptable workaround, that's the first time I've heard of it.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Jim
    Rarely, if ever, do I think it wise to design HOW the defect (or hazard) should be corrected.
    Just report the defect (or hazard) and recommend that it be corrected by a qualified person.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Rick - I disagree . If you know a solution, it does not cause any harm to make a suggested solution , if you know that the solution is acceptable.

    It goes back to the story of the house being on fire during an inspection . Do you just report it, or do you do something about it? Or ,...do you suggest that the fire be extinguished.
    Poor comparison
    But, using your example, I think it would be best to report it... to the fire department.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Even without the burglar bars on the exterior, I have my doubts that the window sashes will have enough travel to open wide enough to allow a larger person to escape.

    Whether codes allow this type of setup or not, I still think everything about it is very dumb.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Even without the burglar bars on the exterior, I have my doubts that the window sashes will have enough travel to open wide enough to allow a larger person to escape.
    Nick,

    I doubt those window meet any of the requirements for emergency escape and rescue openings:
    - sill is too above the floor
    - open height is grossly inadequate
    - width may be to little
    - opening area is no where near the minimum required area
    - then there are those bars

    Whether codes allow this type of setup or not, I still think everything about it is very dumb.
    Not only dumb and against codes, the best hope for survival is based on the fire department being able to spray water into those windows to keep the fire back.

    Instead of calling it Bedroom 1 or Master Bedroom, call it Fry Room 1 or Master Fry Room ... because that is what is going to happen.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Hello Nick. Do those rooms have sprinkler systems in them?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I know what you mean, Nick.
    I also point out to the buyer that, unless they plan on living there for the rest of their lives, this may come back to bite them when they sell.
    Pretty funny John! "the rest of their lives". They just might.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Hello Nick. Do those rooms have sprinkler systems in them?
    Yes, at least they had those.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Its advisable to report the 'implications' of such installations in the report.
    Working smoke and CO detectors either inside or just outside bedroom are very advisable too, but you likely already mentioned that in the report.


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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    While a sprinkler system is obviously good to have, I can't view it as something that will make inadequate emergency egress moot or a non-factor. Depending on the sprinkler system, most of the ones I see appear to be the heat activated ones. Smoke inhalation is just as deadly as the fire.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    The existence of fire sprinklers changes everything. The egress regulations in many jurisdictions are modified when there are fire sprinklers or fire sprinklers are required when there is not appropriate egress.
    It depends on the type of sprinkler system, NFPA 13, 13R, 13D ... if the sprinkler system meets the requirements of NFPA 13 such as are installed in condos and apartment buildings, then EERO are not required. However, if the sprinkler system is a NFPA 13R or 13D as one may likely find in a house, then EERO would still be required.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Smoke detectors are the obvious answer.

    Prior to the IRC and IBC many codes addressed egress differently if there was a fire sprinkler system .Many of these Codes are still in effect. Obviously, this unit has been approved for Occupancy by local authorities. I would check local codes and regulations prior to making an issue of this.
    The windows are at least 6 feet above floor level with iron bars on the exterior. I advised the client of the hazards associated with it and stated the same in the report. I don't care if codes do allow this setup and even if they do, it is still very stupid in my opinion.

    Let's take this a step further and away from the fire and smoke issue. Say the occupant hears an intruder in the house in the middle of the night and wants to get out. Now what?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Let's take this a step further and away from the fire and smoke issue. Say the occupant hears an intruder in the house in the middle of the night and wants to get out. Now what?
    Nick,

    The code does not address security from intruders, the code is only addressing the hazards of the structure.

    Of course, that does not mean that you, being streetwise and knowing local conditions, should not address security.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Nick,

    The code does not address security from intruders, the code is only addressing the hazards of the structure.

    Of course, that does not mean that you, being streetwise and knowing local conditions, should not address security.
    This is one of those times where I'm ready to say to hell with the code and let's look at this from a common sense standpoint instead.

    I see so many buildings and houses with burglar bars that I wonder why people want to live in areas where you need to put bars on your windows. But that's their choice.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Did you report defect burglar bars?
    Absolutely....... "burglar bars noted on exterior of bedroom windows can trap occupants in the event of an emergency - recommend removal of bars for safety"

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Nick - From past experience do not recommend removal. ( I am aware aware of a home inspector who recommended removal and someone broke in to the unit through the window. The inspector was sued and lost big time. ) . Recommend that the appropriate egress hinging be installed on the window grates .
    Then the intruder can just open the exterior window grates before entering. These are not interior grates, they are on the exterior.

    Using your scenario Jim, shouldn't we be recommending the installation of burglar bars to prevent intruders? One could argue that if we would have recommended them, it could have prevented a break in.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    This is one of those times where I'm ready to say to hell with the code and let's look at this from a common sense standpoint
    Nick,

    Keep in mind what the code is: The code is the most unsafe one legally allowed to build.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    One could argue anything but your argument is not logical. That is like arguing for air plane nets over buildings prevent crashes into buildings .
    Removing something that was in place is an entirely different story.
    And what happens if the bars are not called out and somebody gets trapped and burns to death or dies of smoke inhalation? I also see properties with razor wire on tops of the fence around the rear patio with some of it being very close to head level. Do I not make any mention of it or recommend its removal for safety reasons for fear an intruder will jump on that opportunity to pillage the house?

    I see double keyed deadbolt locks on doors all the time and I know why people install them but I still recommend their removal. My explanation is that if somebody wants to get in, they will find a way in. I inspect and make my recommendations for the safety and well being of my client and their ability to get out of the building in the event of an emergency.

    If somebody wants to come after me legally for looking out for their safety, that is out of my hands.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    As I said ,the proper recommendation for window grates is to add appropriate hinges and an interior release.
    That would require special knowledge and requiring special knowledge is not permitted.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Jerry - Wrong again .
    Jim - That shows how wrong you are about almost everything you have posted ... I say almost everything because I do not recall off of your posts in detail and you actually might have posted one thing which was not wrong.

    For clarity, though, what part are you saying was wrong? Your answer will likely confirm what I posted above.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Jim,

    I'm going with this over your far overreaching searches trying to find something which you can apply to your statements but which is not applicable.

    From the 2012 IRC:
    - R310.1.4 Operational constraints. - - Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge

    Jim, you are stretching the bounds of what, if any, credibility you have remaining.

    Your first and foremost issue is that you do not comprehend what "applicability" means, and your second issue tied with the first issue is that you will go to great lengths to find something to support what you said and present it as being applicable and a requirement - when it is neither applicable nor a requirement.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Jerry - What you fail to understand is that the 2012 IRC is not applicable to existing buildings ...
    Jim,

    As usual, you exhibit your vast lack of understanding of the codes.

    The IRC is applicable to existing buildings to the extent that the building was ... should have been ... constructed to it (or as amended, if amended, by the AHJ.

    The IRC is also an excellent reference of current minimum construction requirements.

    The Existing Building Code is not applicable to the existing building as it stands and as inspected by home inspectors.

    The Existing Building Code is only applicable to existing buildings when work is to be done on the existing building, at that time the work is addressed by the EBC and the codes it references.

    Nice try on trying to redirect and misdirect everyone ... but not even close enough to count in horse shoes.

    Your references are not applicable regardless.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    What is the point in having burglar bars at all if they can be opened so easily? Who are they going to keep out of a house?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post

    Jerry - Actually - The International Property Maintenance Code applies in this case ;
    [F] 702.4 Emergency escape openings.

    Required emergency escape openings shall be maintained in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction, and the following. Required emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys or tools. Bars, grilles, grates or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with the code that was in effect at the time of construction and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening.

    My point here is that to improve safety in these types of units a hinged burglar bar with a quick release should be installed to replace the fixed bars.
    This is what is recommended by NFPA, FEMA, US Fire Administration, The Department of Homeland Security,... as witnessed by the previously attached documents. I am just trying to do what I can to make the world a safer and better place.In my world we should be looking for ways to improve safety.
    I have no idea what you are attempting to accomplish with your bizarre opinions.My read is that you are saying that adding hinges and quick release mechanisms to fixed burglar bars is not allowed .What are you trying to accomplish with this opinion , more fire deaths?
    I have come across only one other person like you in my fifty years in the business. He also was Code obsessed and had lost sight of the purpose of the Codes. Hopefully you can turn it around before you end up as he did.
    Jim,

    Before you were not only not close enough to count in horse shoes, you were not close enough to count in hand grenades or atom bombs either ... this time you are close enough to count in hand grenades ... but you still failed to grasp the applicability of it and what it says ... once you grasp that ... you will be close enough to count in horse shoes ...

    The IPMC is applicable only to areas where the AHJ has adopted it, and many have not. For the sake of the discussion, if it was applicable to the area because of adoption by the AHJ you then must learn to read what the code is saying:
    - "Required emergency escape openings shall be maintained in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction, ... "
    - - (Jerry's note: That requirement is first and foremost - "shall be maintained in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction".)
    - and the following.
    - Required emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys or tools.
    - - (Jerry's note: " ... without the use of keys or tools." AND - because the code in effect at the time requires it ... presuming it does in our example ... "without the use of keys or tools or special knowledge." You cannot just drop part of the code because it is not included in this section as the code in effect at the time of construction included it - "or special knowledge".)
    - Bars, grilles, grates or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with the code that was in effect at the time of construction and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening.
    - - (Jerry's note: Remember the requirement which is first and foremost - "shall be maintained in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction" and that code included "or special knowledge".)

    If the bars are releasable from the inside but require any thinking or special knowledge (all do require special knowledge to know what needs to be released), the the bars are not permitted because the original code included "without special knowledge" and the IPMC says "and", not "or".

    Jim, a little more action in the toss for a little farther distance and a little to the left ... then the horse shoe will count, you are closer now.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Emergency Egress.....We Don't Need That

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    As I said ,the proper recommendation for window grates is to add appropriate hinges and an interior release.
    We've had a very long winter here with a lot of snowfall. It's quite possible the snow and ice levels at some point were high enough to block a portion of the exterior grates and prevent the travel of a hinged opening.

    Unless they are used in a correctional facility, I'll never be on board with burglar bars.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

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