OBSTRUCTIONS: The egress path, the entire route from inside the building until the safe area outside the building, should be free of anything that would slow a person down in getting out during an emergency. This includes but is not limited to: toys, bikes, plants, furniture, trash and any other item that could be in the way or cause a trip hazard. Also, the window leading onto the Fire Escape cannot have bars or lock with a key.
MAINTENANCE: The Fire Escape should be cleared of leaves in the Autumn and snow - ice in the winter. The paint should be inspected every year and scrape and spot paint any surface rust every 1 - 3 years. A complete repainting of the Fire Escape should be done every 7 - 10 years or as needed. All connections, i.e. bolted or welded joints etc, should be silicone sealed to prevent rusting within these important areas.
TESTING AND CERTIFICATION: It is very important that the Fire Escape Inspector is qualified by law to inspect Fire Escapes and then is accepted by the local official who enforces the Fire Escape code for the State. Only structural engineers are automatically qualified by law to inspect and yet still must send their credentials to the local official to keep on file. The documentation required by the local official includes qualifications, inspection criteria, sample inspection report, and repair guidelines. This will confirm that the correct and accepted procedures will be performed to remove any code violations.
Some States have changed their Fire Escape code from the "If it ain't broke then don't fix it" interpretation of the code which comes from the statement that Fire Escapes must be "operational at all times". This version of code allows for the Fire Escape to go without maintenance until the local official issues violations which is often when the Fire Escape is in an advanced state of deterioration with structural compromises. More and more States are changing the law to require an inspection - "examination and or tested" - every 1 - 5 years. This means all connections, visible and hidden, are visually inspected and a Confidence Test is issued, certifying (guaranteeing) that the Fire Escape System is structurally sound. Otherwise, a load test must be performed on the Fire Escape System, as per criteria submitted to the local official and with NO DISCLAIMERS to the owner ON ANY major structural components.