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civil/structural/forensic engineering, code consulting, building inspections

Fire Escape Certification 

Modern building codes require code-complying stairways for egress in new structures. In existing buildings, fire escapes are sometimes the only option to a code-complying egress stairway, due to space limitations. Fire escapes may be the only escape route in a fire. However, due to their limited use and exposure to the elements, they can and do fail. The failure is sometimes sudden and catastrophic.


A Pulitzer-prize winning photograph of a tragic fire escape failure drove this issue home. As a result of this and similar failures, many states/municipalities require periodic inspections of fire escapes by a registered architect/or engineer to confirm that the fire escape is properly maintained and structurally safe.


Odin Engineering has been inspecting and certifying fire escapes since 1985. We are not in the business of making repairs, so there is no conflict of interests. When and necessary repairs are made, we will re-inspect and provide the required certification that the reapirs have been properly conducted and the fire escape is structurally safe to use.  


A confidence test must be conducted on fire escapes every five (5) years and must be performed by, or conducted under the direct supervision of, a currently licensed Kentucky State Structural Engineer. The confidence test report must be stamped, dated and signed with the Professional Engineer’s stamp and submitted to the Lexington Fire Department’s Fire Marshal’s Office.










The entire fire escape shall be checked annually between the five year structural inspections for rust, and painted if needed. Hand rails must be physically checked for integrity. Loose bolts, grates, and framework should be tightened, repaired, or replaced as necessary. The ladder must be checked for unauthorized modification and proper function.


If the structural engineer’s inspection determines that repair or upgrading is required, the work must be performed per the engineers report with approval of this office.


Fire Escapes shall display a service tag which indicates the date of structural inspection made of plastic, 8” x 11” which must be attached to the fire escape on the exterior of the lowest landing. This allows the tag to be easily read by anyone who may use the fire escape for maintenance and/or emergency evacuation.