A means of egress is an exit path that occupants may use to safely exit a building. It is designed to
provide safe and easy travel during a fire or other emergency so that the risk of injury or death is
minimized. Most facilities have more than one means of egress, though the exact number of exits
depends on the building’s function, design, and occupancy load. Once in place, exit paths must be
carefully maintained to ensure they are not blocked or compromised during normal building operation.
A means of egress is a continuous and unobstructed way of exit travel from any point in a building
or structure to a public way, which allows occupants to promptly exit a building or structure in the
event of an emergency.
A means of egress consists of three parts: exit access, exit and the exit discharge. Exit access is the
path from any location within a building to an exit. An exit is typically a door leading to the outside
or, in a multi-story building an enclosed exit stairway. Exit discharge is the pass from the exit to the
public way. A public way is a space that is permanently dedicated to public use, most often a street
Looking at the typical causes of fire deaths, blocked exits are probably the most preventable and
most likely to result in criminal negligence charges. Florida Atlantic University has a responsibility
to provide a safe environment to anyone working, learning or attending events within a building. It
is therefore essential that there is access for quick evacuation during an emergency and the
guidelines below are strictly observed.
Basic Requirements for Means of Egress
- For any room or space with only one exit a maximum occupant load should not exceed 50 people.
- For any room or space with only two exits, the maximum occupant load should not exceed 500 people.
- For any room or space with only three exits, the maximum occupant load should be 1000 people.
- For rooms more than 50 occupants, doors must swing in the direction of egress.
- For rooms more than 100 occupants, doors should be equipped with panic hardware.
- Exit doors should lead to a corridor, an exit stair enclosure, or directly to the exterior of a building. Exits should not pass through adjacent rooms or through hazardous areas such as kitchens, storage rooms, loading docks etc.
- Doors act as a barrier for fire and smoke and to serve as components in a means of egress.
- The self-closing devices shall not be disconnected or rendered inoperable.
- Fire and smoke rated doors shall not be blocked open. Obstructions that will prohibit fire and smoke rated doors from closing and latching without human intervention are not permitted.
- Door chocks or foot stops may not be installed on any fire rated door.
- Exit doors must not be equipped with locking hardware that would allow an occupant to be locked inside the room or space.
- Exit doors should also not be equipped with secondary locking devices, such as a dead bolt or slide bolt etc. It should be possible to open any designated exit door using a single motion, without the use of key, tool or special knowledge.
- The means of egress including the exit discharge shall be illuminated at all times the building is occupied.
- Gates used as a component in a means of egress shall conform to applicable requirements to doors.
- Turnstiles or similar devices that restrict travel to one direction shall not be placed so as to obstruct travel to one direction. Shall not be placed to obstruct any required means of egress.
- Where required exit and exit access doors shall be marked by an approved exit sign readily visible from any direction of egress travel.