- fire escape
an apparatus or structure used to escape from a burning building, as a metal stairway down an outside wall.[1670-80]
* * *Means of rapid egress from a building, primarily intended for use in case of fire.Building codes define an exit as an enclosed and protected path of escape in the event of a fire, leading from an exit access through a combination of corridors, stairways, and doors to an exit discharge at an exterior court or public way. The term fire escape usually refers to open iron or steel balconies with steep stairways on the outside of buildings; often a retrofit of older buildings, these are rare in new construction. Other means of escape are by balconies leading to adjacent buildings, or through chutes, often used in hospitals.
* * *means of rapid egress from a building, primarily intended for use in case of fire. Several types have been used: a knotted rope or rope ladder secured to an inside wall; an open iron stairway on the building's exterior, an iron balcony; a chute; and an enclosed fire- and smokeproof stairway. The iron stairway is the commonest because it can be added to the outside of nearly any building of modest height, although it has certain drawbacks; unless built against a blank wall it may be rendered useless by smoke from windows, and a means must be provided for keeping it in readiness while denying its use to thieves and prowlers. The iron balcony extends around the exterior of a building to provide a corridor along which persons can flee from fire-imperilled rooms to safety behind a fire wall or in an adjacent building. The chute, or slide escape, is either a curved or a straight incline and may be open or enclosed; it is well suited to such buildings as hospitals, from which patients can be evacuated on their mattresses. The best fire escape, however, is a fully enclosed fireproof stairway in the building or in an adjoining tower. Elevators (elevator) are not considered safe because fire damage may cause them to fail and heat-sensitive call buttons may stop the car where the fire is hottest.
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