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Economics of Egress Alternatives and Life-Safety Costs



Robert E. Chapman, David T. Butry, Allison L. Huang, Douglas S. Thomas


Fire protection measures are needed to maintain the safety and integrity of the Nation s building stock and to limit loss of life and property when building fires do occur. Statistics published by the National Fire Protection Association demonstrate that fire protection is a major investment cost in building construction. Therefore, ways to reduce these costs while ensuring safety are of interest to building owners, fire protection engineers, and other construction industry stakeholders. Although all fire protection measures have important economic implications, the focus of this report is on egress-related requirements in new building construction. Recent changes in the International Building Code have set the stage for analyzing the costs of several key egress-related requirements. The U.S. General Services Administration commissioned this study to conduct an economic analysis of the use of elevators and exit stairs for occupant evacuation and fire service access. The goal of this study is to produce analyses of cost data suitable for evaluating improved egress system designs that promote efficient and timely egress of occupants, including those with disabilities, and that facilitate more efficient fire department operations. This report tabulates cost data for selected egress-related requirements in five prototypical buildings. The five prototypical buildings range in height from a 5-floor, mid-rise building to a 75-floor, high-rise building. Cost data are tabulated in a format that facilitates life-cycle cost analyses of selected egress-related requirements. Incremental costs are also tabulated to help assess the implications of changing one or more design parameters. The results of the economic analysis for four prototypical buildings over 120 ft (37 m), with two over 420 ft (128 m) high, demonstrate that: (1) an additional exit stair is a cost-effective alternative to the installation of occupant evacuation elevators on a first-cost basis; and (
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1109
Report Number


Buildings, cost data, economic analysis, egress, exit stairs, fire protection, life-cycle cost, occupant evacuation elevators, safety


Chapman, R. , Butry, D. , Huang, A. and Thomas, D. (2010), Economics of Egress Alternatives and Life-Safety Costs, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created September 30, 2010, Updated February 19, 2017