Who is responsible for fire exit doors and fire escapes safety?

Open, efficient escape routes are imperative to have 24/7/365 regardless if your house or current location catches fire or not. The steps and maintenance to upkeep fire ladders and fire doors is extremely important to ensure the safety of all inhabitants or visitors of a building. The responsible party (or parties) in keeping up with such maintenance are those who hold ownership over the property. They must ensure that doors and ladders are kept up to standards that will pass fire escape inspections and upkeep any certifications necessary. Also, they must make sure that codes and requirements are kept up-to-date in the chance of any safety regulations changing that regard the fire escape system.

If you find yourself as part of, or the only, responsible party whose responsibility is to ensure that fire codes and regulations are met, and then there are important steps and things to consider as you hold that responsibility. The responsible party must make sure that all fire escapes, fire ladders, and escape doors are kept clear and clean at all times. There are certain maintenance standards and inspections that must be passed in order to be considered cleared by the fire department. If you find yourself in a position where you are unsure of what inspections or certifications that you need when it comes to your fire escape plan, or if you need a fire escape plan and are pretty much starting from the bottom up, you can contact your landlord or local fire department to find out those regulations. Even if you think that it can “wait” because “fires don’t happen every day” or “they’re pretty easy to prevent”, you have to consider this: fires do not work on your time. They come and go as they please. Fire escape and proper planning should be the first thing that you check off of your to-do list.

Both fire escape doors and fire escape ladders work together in harmony, and you cannot have one without the other. If the door is tampered with, the ability to exit or access the fire escape stairs may be impaired and prohibit people from escaping a fire in a timely manner. The same goes for the maintenance of stairs and fire exit ladders. If you encounter a staircase that is cluttered or rickety and unsafe to walk on, then the fact of having it is pointless and is detrimental to your safety. It is common for home and property owners to use these areas to store items since “fires don’t happen every day”. Which is false, because they do? Fires do not work on a person’s schedule and can happen at any time at any severity. Therefore, regardless of the convenience it is to have the extra storage space around a fire exit and fire stairs/ladders; it is not worth it to use these areas for anything aside from their intended use.

As stated before, being the responsible person/party of a building requires special attention to fire escapes and the proper ladders and other additions to the building. Without a properly maintained escape route, the building cannot function up to standards which can cause issues down the road. So, remember, when you’re making your to-do list for your new building, or even spring cleaning a building you’ve had for years: make sure your fire escape doors, ladders, and equipments are up to inspection standards!