R-9 UCBC Index of Sections

Code Plain English

374B.1.4 The Exit Access

374B.1.4.1 General.

The exit access shall be pursuant to Section 1004 and as herein provided.



374B.1.4.2 Separation of exits.

When two exits are required in an existing building that has only one existing exit stairway, a second exit that complies with current code may be constructed next to the existing stairway if the arrangement of the stairways meet the following conditions:

  1. The entry to the stairways are at opposite ends.
  2. Any hallway or corridor connecting the entries to the stairways is constructed pursuant toe Section 1004.3.4.3
  3. A horizontal exit wall bisects the building and stairways.
  4. Any area of the floor has access to either stairway.

See Figure A-3B-8

 This is a particularly helpful provision that addresses a common situation: an existing older building which has only one exit stairway but which is required as a change of use to have two means of egress. The solution (see figure _____) is similar to the New York-style "scissor stair", and can serve as a crucial aid in making possible the conversion of a building which might otherwise be unworkable. To address some specifics: in #2, this means a fire rated corridor, and "horizontal exit wall" is a fire-rated wall.

374B.5 Emergency Escape and Rescue.

374B.5.1 General.

Every Group R-9 Occupancy shall have at least one emergency escape and rescue window or door for each separate sleeping room or sleeping area pursuant to Section 310.4 and as provided herein.

 374B.5 Emergency Escape and Rescue.

374B.5.1 General.

Strict compliance with Emergency Escape and Rescue is one of the Achilles’ heels of many live/work renovations. Normally under the residential code, every single separate bedroom needs an Emergency Escape & Rescue opening suffciently large (at least 5.7 sq. feet), with minimum dimensions (20" wide and 24" high) and properly placed (not to exceed 44" from the floor) to permit a fireman with an oxygen backpack to enter the bedroom and rescue an occupant. In many cases, live/work units are arranged so that the work space is near the windows, and the sleeping area is near the core of the building, often in some sort of loft or mezzanine located some distance away from operable windows.

374B.5.2 Sleeping Area.

If a sleeping area is located in the common atmosphere of a room, even if the room is at a different level from the sleeping area and/or has multiple levels, and is not separated from the room with a wall greater than 42 inches high above the finish floor level of the sleeping area, the required emergency escape and rescue window or door may be located in the room provided:

  1. The required emergency escape and rescue window or door is directly visually ascertainable from the sleeping area which it serves.
  2. A direct path of travel, which may include stairways, etc., is provided between each sleeping area and its required window or door.

More than one sleeping area may use the same egress window or door as long as the emergency escape and rescue window or door serving each sleeping area meets the above requirements.

 334B.5.2 Sleeping Area.

In order to accommodate this situation, Oakland (among other cities) has ruled that as long as one can easily see to the sleeping space or spaces from a complying escape window–meaning that the sleeping space is in a mezzanine that is open except for a rail not exceeding 42" in height–the requirements for emergency escape and rescue are met. This is referred to as "line-of-sight" visual access. There also needs to be a direct path of travel between the sleeping area and its escape opening.

More than one sleeping area may use the same escape window or door as long as the emergency escape and rescue window or door serving each sleeping area meets the above requirements.

374B.5.3 Alternative Emergency Escape and Rescue in Existing Buildings.


In an existing building where no exterior wall of the sleeping area of an individual space or JLWQ abuts a public street, public alley, yard or exit court any one of the following alternatives may be used. Signage to indicate the point of emergency egress and rescue and other facilities to ensure ease of access and egress along the escape and rescue path shall be installed to meet the recommendations of the Fire Marshal and the Building Official:

  1. An escape and rescue door may open directly into a corridor if the corridor is constructed to meet the requirements for an extent of stairway enclosure pursuant to Section 1009.4 including provisions for openings and doors, appropriate for the configuration of the building in which it is located. A "Knox Box" with keys shall be provided in an approved location for the Fire Department's use.
  2. A one-hour fire-resistive compartment with one-hour label exit door and equipped with a ships ladder to the roof. A minimum 36 inches by 48 inches clear landing shall be provided in front of the bottom of the ships ladder. Emergency lighting, a counter-balanced roof hatch, and marked exit path across the roof to an approved fire escape or escape ladder shall be provided.
  3. If a court without access to a public way on the property is available, then an approved fire escape or escape ladders may either lead to the roof similar to alternative 2 above, or to the bottom of the court. An approved fire department access path to the bottom of the court shall be provided to meet the recommendations of the Fire Marshal and Building Offcial. A "Knox Box" shall be provided if there are any locked doors or gates along the fire department access path.

When the roof is part of an alternative emergency escape and rescue method, the roof structure at the exit path and the queuing area to the escape ladder or stair offof the roof shall consider the live loads added to Table 16-A in Section 330B. The queuing area provided shall be 3 square feet per occupant for the occupant load served by the alternative emergency escape and rescue.

  334B.5.3 Alternative Emergency Escape and Rescue in Existing Buildings.


Sometimes units in existing buildings can be "landlocked" and have no opportunities for exterior openings. In such cases–when the building is fully sprinklered and the renovation is to create JLWQ–there are alternative means of complying with the code.

  1. If the Emergency Escape and Rescue opening is a door and has direct visual access and a direct path of travel to/from the sleeping area, it can open directly into a rated corridor that is "constructed to meet the requirements for the extent of stairway." This means that if the building type (according to UBC Table 6-A or other code provisions) requires a two-hour rated stair enclosure, then the corridor serving the emergency escape and rescue door would have to be 2-hour rated (probably with 90-minute doors opening into it). For further information refer to 336B.1, Shafts and Exit Enclosures.
  2. Sometimes the only way out, for example, due to lack of visual access to the corridor door of a unit, is up onto a roof and across to a fire escape or escape ladder, such as a folding Jomy ladder.
  3. In other cases, windows will exit into courts that have no access to a public way. In such cases, ladder access to and across a roof–as in 2 above–is permitted, or access from the court to a public way can be provided via a corridor, exit passageway or other Fire Department-approved means.

374B.5.3.2 Notice of Limitation.

If any alternative emergency escape and rescue method is used a "notice of limitation" shall be recorded with the Alameda County Recorder's Offce with a waiver of damages and holding the City harmless for any litigation relating to alternative emergency escape and rescue provided.


374B.5.3.3 Exit Path Roof Load.

The roof exit path and a minimum 10 feet square queuing area at the escape stair or ladder off of the roof shall be structurally designed for the loads pursuant to Section 330B.


374B.6 Occupant Load

374B.6.1 General.

Occupant loads for buildings with R-9 occupancies shall comply with Table 10-A - Minimum Egress Requirements for the appropriate use.


374B.7 Guardrails.

374B.7.1 General.

Code provisions pertinent to guardrails apply to R-9 occupancies as for an R-9 Occupancy except as herein provided for the individual residential space.


Required guardrails including sleeping mezzanine guardrails for an individual JLWQ may be a minimum of 36 inches in height. A built-in sleeping bunk need not have a guardrail but shall have a railing that has a height of at least one-third of the clear floor to ceiling height measured vertically at the rail. This railing need not exceed 36 inches.


Normally, in all but private residences, guardrails for decks and open stairs are required to be a minimum 42" high. This provision states that within live/work units guardrails may be a minimum 36" in height.