Bedroom Window Egress


The secondary emergency exit required in a bedroom is usually a window. The dimensions of the openings are to ensure the residents an escape route, but equally important, they allow firefighters with a backpack to enter. The opening must be at least 24" high and at least 20" wide. with a net area of 5.7 sq.ft. The window sill must not be higher than ____" from the floor.

UBC - 310.4
IRC - 310.1, 310.1.1, 310.1.2,3

44" I believe F.B.C. chapter 10 section 1025

I believe that the wording is important enough here to mention.

The opening must be a minimum of 24" high and a minimum of 20" wide. and not less than 5.7 sq. ft. and no more than 44" high.

That means that at 24" high, the window opening would have to be 34.2" wide to meet the 5.7 s.f. criteria.

NFPA 101

Marcel :slight_smile: :smiley:

You are correct! I put a calculator to it! Wow!

The 44-inch sill height is correct, but states which have adopted the most recent versions of the IBC may have a different (more stringent, meaning closer to the floor) requirement. I don’t have a 2006 code handy to check.

Hi Marcel,
This is why we see so many new homes built with all the double hung windows the same size, first and second floor, unless your in Mass. which I think is 3.2.

One thing to remember is casement windows can meet egress but be much smaller if they have egress hardware on them which the clear opening is achieved when the window is cranked open to a full 90 degrees.

Your right Peter, the Casement would be the best option to meet those needs and the next best in my opinion would be a single or double hung when it is 36" wide, but that is a big window.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

The 2006 IRC has the same requirements. The IBC is not relevant to Residential applications, however, it holds the same dimensions as the IRC for “Emergency Escapes and Rescue Openings” - IBC 1026.2 thru 1026.3**

Be careful not to forget about the exception to that 5.7 sf rule…that is only required for windows that are not **GRADE FLOOR OPENINGS. **A grade floor window is basically a first floor window that a fireman could reach without the help of a ladder. Such windows only require 5.0 sf of opening. That is true for both IBC and IRC codes.

I inspected a home two weeks ago and the owner was present and was a fireman. I asked him if he finds trapped victims in homes where the windows are too small to exit through them and he said yes, quite often they do find people that have died due to too small of egress windows. He said to write up too small of windows in a forceful way to prevent deaths.

Thread resurrection here…

So this casement at 13-1/2" clear width and 35-1/2" clear height is something to write up.

must be 20" wide, regardless of how high it is:shock::roll:

thank you sir

2009 NC Building Code1026.2 Emergency escape and rescue openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet.
This is meant for firefighters and rescue personnel to be able to break out area for entrance while wearing equipment
1026.2.1The minimum net clear opening height dimension shall be 24"(610mm). The net clear opening width dimension shall be 20 inches(508mm). The net clear opening shall be the result of normal operation of the opening.
This is the normal opening of the sash so a person can go through.

It is not required to have 5.7 sq ft of opening under normal operation of window. This is how a single hung window can meet the code, if the opening when you raise the sash is a least 20 inches wide and 24 inches in height.
Also no more than 44" from floor. For classrooms serving grade 5 and younger, no more than 32" from floor

Thanks PR for the detailed response. Question - what is the best way to have the code book you referenced, e-copy, website subscription, hard copy? I would like to have one in my library for reference.

I have a hard copy( I say old school, my kids just say old) but you can check your state website and see if they have other options than hard copy.

google International Code Council and follow the links to bookstore

Item to be aware of:

Vinyl replacement windows not meeting codes for egress

In the past year, I have called 4 houses where the replacement bedroom windows do not meet current codes. The originals were 1970’s horizontal glass sliders that met codes; were replaced with 2 small side-by-side single hung vertical sliders.

At the last house, my client was a young firefighter (the 10th or 11th inspection out of that particular fire station brigade). The homeowner gave up $4,500 due his stupid vinyl window salesman.

After the inspection, the young fellow didn’t believe that such a miss could occur so went back to his station and read the code on egress windows…wrongly!! So he called me and after about 5 minutes “discussion” on the phone with him, I asked if the senior firefighter (he was my first inspection out of that group) was there. He was, thank god!! Got the senior gent to give the young fellow a short course on scientific notation and his misinterpretation of the code…case closed.

Have now called and spoke to the provincial Fire Marshall twice on this issue.

what is the legal drop to the outside to get out? in california. how far from the window to the ground I am trying to get them to put in a door save from putting in two windows. it half the cost and a little deck so I can walk of being disabled