Means of Egress Widths in Suites

Q: During a recent survey, we were cited for not maintaining at least 36 inches of clear width in our suites for exiting purposes. I thought one of the advantages of suites is corridor widths are not required to be maintained, according to section 19.2.3.3 (exception #2) in the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC). Why would we have to maintain 36 inches clearance?

A: You are correct when you say corridor widths are not required to be maintained in a suite-of-rooms, however, the surveyor was basically correct in that aisle widths must be maintained in all areas of the means of egress. Let’s review the basic concept of a suite: A suite is just a large room with a lot of smaller rooms inside it. There are constraints on the size of the suite and limitations on the travel distances from inside the suite to the corridor door. One of the advantages of a suite is what looks like a corridor inside the suite is actually just a common space, and the width does not have to be maintained to 8 feet clearance, as you pointed out. However, the means of egress must meet minimum clearances according to section 7.3.4.1 which is at least 36 inches clearance for new conditions and 28 inches for existing. The means of egress is defined in section 3.3.121 as “A continuous…way of travel from any point in the building…to a public way…” The means of egress applies to all rooms including suites even if there are no corridors in that area, so you would have to comply with section 7.3.4.1 and allow a minimum aisle width of 36 inches for new construction, or 28 inches for existing conditions.