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When were emergency egress windows first required by code?
Saturday, January 1, 2022
The requirement for a means of emergency exit from a bedroom or basement directly to the outside of a home was first required around the 1960’s or so. Here’s how it was stated in the 1973 South Florida Building Code.
We say “around the 1960s” because there were literally dozens of regional building codes around the U.S. in that era, and they each separately adopted their own version of a required opening for an occupant to get directly out of a house in a fire—and also for a fireman to get inside for rescue. The International Residential Code (IRC), which consolidated multiple older codes and now covers most of the country, had the current standard in place when it was first issued in 2000. You can read about it at What is an egress window?
Also, the clause in the 1973 SFBC allowing a house with “two doors providing separate means of escape” from the home, as an alternative to an egress window in each bedroom, is long-gone. But many jurisdictions allow older homes that do not have egress windows to replace their windows without complying with the emergency egress specs if compliance would require enlarging the opening in the wall.
We most often see a violation of this code/safety mandate when a homeowner encloses a carport or screen porch to create more conditioned living area inside the home and, in the process, either eliminates an existi egress window altogether or eliminates its required direct access to the exterior.
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To learn more about doors and windows, see these other blog posts:
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