10th Edition Updates – Egress, Part 3

For our 10th and final post on the 10th Edition Major Changes blog series, we will review more changes related to egress, namely exiting through elevator lobbies, areas of refuge at the level of exit discharge, and handrails at stepped aisles.

Exit Access through Elevator Lobbies

Previous editions of the International Building Code (IBC) have allowed the means of egress to traverse through an enclosed elevator lobby provided alternative path of travel was available. In other words, the sole means of egress from a space could not pass through enclosed elevator lobbies required by IBC Section 3006. This language in Section 1016.2 has been modified in the 10th edition of 780 CMR to allow the sole means of egress from a space to traverse through an elevator lobby where such spaces only require one exit or exit access in accordance with IBC Section 1006.2.1. This will give designers more flexibility in locating smaller spaces near, or adjacent to enclosed elevator lobbies.

Interior Areas of Refuge

Providing an accessible means of egress from the level of exit discharge to a public way can be challenging for buildings situated on steep grade changes. This is primarily because intermediate stairways connecting to grade level are prohibited from serving as part of an accessible means of egress. In these scenarios, it is common to incorporate exterior areas of refuge to achieve a second required accessible means of egress in lieu of providing a prohibitively large ramp. The code has not provided a pathway to locate interior areas of refuge at the level of exit discharge as IBC Section 1009.6.2 generally requires direct access to an exit stairway.

In recognition that these exterior areas of refuge may not be desirable due to weather conditions or spatial constraints, the 10th Edition now gives designers flexibility to locate these at-grade areas of refuge on the interior side of the building. Specifically, an exception has been added to IBC Section 1009.6.2 to allow for an interior area of refuge at the level of exit discharge provided it has direct access to an exterior exit door. All other features required for an area of refuge must also be provided, including sufficient wheelchair space, fire separation, two-way communication, and appropriate signage.

Handrails at Stepped Aisles

Stepped aisles with seating on side have become increasingly popular in assembly or educational type occupancies. The issue in providing these features is that the IBC has not specifically regulated how to incorporate handrails along the stepped aisle without obstructing the path to the seating. This will be clarified in the 10th Edition of 780 CMR as follows:

  • First, IBC Section 1030.16 has been modified to identify when one or two handrails are required for stepped aisles, and where the handrails must be located along the stepped aisle. Specifically, two handrails will be required for stepped aisles having a width of 72” or greater, in which one of the handrails must be located within 30” horizontally of the stepped aisle.
  • Next, IBC Section 1030.16.1 will address the continuity of the mid-aisle handrail, in which 22”-36” gaps or breaks must be provided at intervals not exceeding five rows to facilitate access to seating.

It’s important to highlight that the 10th edition of 780 CMR has not been finalized or adopted in Massachusetts and is potentially subject to further changes. Our current projection for the adoption of the 10th edition is Q2 of 2024 – see our prior post which outlines the overall process and timeline.

At this conclusion to our “10th Edition Major Changes” blog series, we wanted to thank everyone who tuned in – we hope you found it insightful. Our team will continue to provide 10th Edition updates on our blog as changes and adoption timeline are solidified.

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.