Since external fire escapes (think fire escape ladders for apartments) are thankfully not commonly used for their intended purposes, sometimes tenants of these buildings will see them as alternatives to balconies and porches. Oftentimes when passing through a city, you will see people use these external structures for alternative means such as storage, decoration, or primary means of entering and exiting their space.
Emergency fire escape ladders should not be used for personal storage and decorative purposes, as this not only violates fire escape regulations, but can prove to be a barrier and safety hazard in the event of a fire or other means of needing to get to safety by means of an emergency fire escape. Utilizing external fire escapes for purposes other than their intended use can also cause potential acceleration in damages which would cause need for balcony repair.
These are commercial structures, but are not designed and intended (nor are they safe) to be used as a regular means of entry or exit to a building. Unnecessary usage may also call for fire escape repairs, such as scraping and repainting the fire escape due to debris and weathering from unintended usage (decorating, excessive usage, and overall poor maintenance.)
The regular maintenance ensures that they are structurally sound, as well as have the proper finishes to use to safely escape instead of slipping or being snagged by unmaintained steel fire escapes. In all, it is important to maintain the integrity of the external fire escape to ensure that it passes any and all fire escape inspections and maintains its fire escape certifications.
By keeping usage of these external structures to a minimum and only in cases of emergency, not only are property owners avoiding paying large fines, these property owners and tenants can also ensure that their commercial fire escape ladders are in compliance and a reliable means of exiting a structure towards safer grounds.