Hi, I’m new to InterNACHI and home inspections. I have passed the NHIE and now performing my first 50 inspections with another home inspector. I have a question about fire escape stairs and how to handle them in an inspection and would like to hear your thoughts or what comments you leave about these types of items on a report. Is this something that we will just inspect from a connection point to the house point of view and recommend a qualified contractor? Is this something that is handled by most fire departments? I am in RI and will be working in RI and MA. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
I don’t inspect in an area that has fire escapes so I can’t help you there. My first inclination is that it would fall under the local jurisdiction’s Fire Department, but I can’t be for sure on that. Hopefully, someone in your area will pipe in and give you a some better and more helpful information.
Fire escapes are outside the scope of a home inspection.
In New Jersey (I’m sure its similar in other states):
- Every 5 years, a fire escape must be inspected and certified by a certified Fire Escape Company
- The Fire Escape Company must provide a Structural Engineers report
- If the Structural Engineers reports passes the fire escape, a copy must be on site for municipal inspections
- If the Structural Engineers report has deficiencies, repairs must be made immediately
- The Fire Escape Company will put a plaque on the fire escape so inspectors can see that it was certified.
I always defer them to a certified fire escape contractor.
We only have fire escapes on three or more floors. From a home inspection point of view it is important to make sure all the access windows work. Little point in a fire escape if the windows are painted shut or inoperable (window AC in the way).
Although not mentioned in the residential SOP a fire escape is an essential life safety element. I would report on its presence and general condition and recommend further evaluation by a qualified contractor if defects are found.