Determining the occupant load
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Determining the Occupant Load. Occupant loads are based upon three factors: Occupancy Classification Square footage of the floor or area Occupant Load Factor. Existing Versus New Buildings.

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Determining the Occupant Load

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Determining the occupant load

Determining the Occupant Load

  • Occupant loads are based upon three factors:

    • Occupancy Classification

    • Square footage of the floor or area

    • Occupant Load Factor

Existing versus new buildings

Existing Versus New Buildings

  • For existing building compare the calculated occupant load with the actual occupancy in the building, take whichever occupancy is higher!

  • For new buildings, use the calculated occupant load and design for that value

Occupant load steps

Occupant Load Steps

  • Classify the Building

    • Industrial Occupancy

  • Find the Occupant Load Factor

    • Table in Chapter 7 of NFPA 101

  • Dividing the floor area assigned to that use by the occupant load factor

    • For determining the floor area, use the gross or net square footage as required in the codes

    • Net square footage: Does not include areas such as restrooms, closets, and mechanical rooms

  • The table indicates when to use net versus gross square footage

Determining capacities of exits

Determining Capacities of Exits

  • With the occupant load calculated, you then need to determine the widths, number, and placement of exits to ensure you can accommodate the design occupant load

  • For example, if you determined the occupant load to be 1,000 people, you need to provide enough exits of sufficient widths and placement to serve 1,000 people

  • Determine what is the minimum acceptable door width

Calculating capacities of exits

Calculating Capacities of Exits

  • The capacity of an exit is determined by using:

    • The exit width

    • The exit surface (level versus stairs)

    • In some occupancies, if there is a sprinkler system present

    • Example: A door has a width of 38” and the occupancy class is industrial

    • Level components have a capacity factor of .2

    • Therefore, the one exit can serve up to 190 people (38”/.2)

    • If the building has an occupant load of 1,000 people, you will need at least 6 exits (1,000/190 = 5.26)

Travel distances to exits

Travel Distances to Exits

  • Maximum travel distances to exits are determined by occupancy class

  • Different for sprinklered and unsprinklered buildings

  • For a sprinklered industrial facility, the maximum travel distance to an exit is 250 feet

Calculating travel distances

Calculating Travel Distances

  • Measurement of Travel Distance to Exits

  • The travel distance to an exit shall be measured on the floor or other walking surface as follows:

  • (1) Along the centerline of the natural path of travel, starting from the most remote point subject to occupancy

  • (2) Curving around any corners or obstructions with a 12-in. clearance therefrom

  • (3) Terminating at one of the following:

    • Center of the doorway

    • Other point at which the exit begins

    • Smoke barrier in an existing detention and correctional occupancy as provided in Chapter 23

Exit arrangements

Exit Arrangements

  • Usually, a floor must have a minimum of 2 exits

    • Minimum number increases with occupant load

  • Two exits must meet minimum separation requirements

    • At least 1/3 the diagonal distance of the floor away from each other for sprinklered buildings

    • At least 1/2 the diagonal distance of the floor away from each other for unsprinklered buildings

Exit termination

Exit Termination

  • Exits shall terminate directly, at a public way or at an exterior exit discharge, unless otherwise provided

  • The exit discharge shall be arranged and marked to make clear the direction of egress to a public way.



  • Illumination of means of egress shall be continuous during the time that the conditions of occupancy require that the means of egress be available for use.

    • Artificial or natural lighting

    • The minimum illumination levels

      • For example, floors and walking surfaces, other than new stairs, must provide at least 1 ft-candle measured at the floor

Emergency lighting

Emergency Lighting

  • As required for means of egress in buildings or structures defined by the codes

  • Exit accesses requiring illumination includes only designated stairs, aisles, corridors, ramps, esc

  • Emergency illumination shall be provided for not less than 1½ hours in the event of failure of normal lighting

  • Not less than an initial average of 1 ft-candle and, at any point, not less than 0.1 ft-candle, measured along the path of egress at floor level

Exit markings exit access markings and directional signage

Exit Markings, Exit Access Markings, and Directional Signage

  • Exits, other than main exterior exit doors that obviously and clearly are identifiable as exits, shall be marked by an approved sign that is readily visible from any direction of exit access.

  • Access to exits shall be marked by approved, readily visible signs in all cases where the exit or way to reach the exit is not readily apparent to the occupants.

  • Directional signs with a directional indicator showing the direction of travel shall be placed in every location where the direction of travel to reach the nearest exit is not apparent.

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