Apartment Breezeway Stairs

The following codes are from the 1997 Regional Amendments and may not be the most current for all categories. 
For the newest list of codes and amendments, click here.

In an effort to continue with the process of supporting common codes across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) planning region, the NCTCOG Regional Codes Coordinating Committee's Building Subcommittee reviewed stairway openness when dealing with apartment breezeway stairs.

The interpretation deals with stairways installed on each side of an apartment building at the end of a breezeway. The purpose was to agree on how much openness was needed to consider a stairway an exterior stair and thus remove the requirement of enclosure construction with doors. Various designs were discussed. After reviewing computer modeling data provided by the National Multi Housing Council along with a provision of the Final Draft 2000 International Building Code (2000 IBC) Section 1005.3.6.1, a recommended regional interpretation was developed. In contrast to the 2000 IBC, 1997 Uniform Building Code (1997 UBC) Section 1006.3.3.1 requires the exterior stair to be open on two adjacent sides. After discussion, the Subcommittee approved a compromise interpretation that combines provisions of the 1997 UBC and the 2000 IBC. The regional interpretation is provided below with illustrations.

With only one side open, by UBC Section 1006.3.3. 1, the stair will be considered to be interior with rated enclosure walls. However, the enclosure need not be completed across the breezeway when all of the following conditions exist.

  1. The breezeway is sprinklered. (13 or 13R)
  2. A minimum of 35 sq ft opening must be in the open side at each level between the horizontal projection of the floor level and ceiling above.
  3. The top of the opening in the upper level must be higher than the top of doors to allow the escape of hot gases and smoke.
  4. This alternate method does not address the required separation of stairs and is not to be taken to imply that all stairs may be flush with the exterior wall.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, upon the recommendation of the Regional Codes Coordinating Committee and its Building Subcommittee, encourages your jurisdiction to utilize the regional interpretation as an alternate design when enforcing apartment breezeway stair openness provisions of the 1997 UBC.