What Do You Need to Know About Escape Windows?

Published on Thursday, 19th December 2013

Means of escape roof windows are a legal requirement.

In more recent times, homeowners are looking at renovation instead of moving as a way of improving their home - transforming an empty loft space into a warm, comfortable bedroom is one of the most common methods. If you are looking to add another habitable room to your home, then you may need a secondary means of escape, as advised by Building Control.

In this blog, we aim to give an overview of the type of escape roof windows available, as well as the necessary boxes you need to tick in order to fulfil the legal requirements of your local building control.

Do all rooms need an emergency exit?

According to Approved Document B - Fire Safety: Volume 1 - Dwelling Houses, all habitable rooms in buildings of one or two storeys need to have an escape window in the event of a fire that leads to a safe location outside:

  • Ground floor rooms can have direct access to a corridor leading directly to an external door or escape window
  • First floor rooms need an escape window, or a protected stair enclosure leading to an external door
  • Second floor and higher rooms need a protected stair enclosure leading to an external door.

The key facts for an escape window

Escape windows must...

Before you decide on which escape window to go for and begin installation, you need to make sure that the window is going to meet certain requirements.

All escape windows must lead to a safe place that can be accessible by ladder by the fire brigade to provide necessary help to reach you in the case of a fire. It must be able to stay open without being held, as well as opening to the side or upwards to at least 450mm.

The escape window opening must...

So, you've met all the criteria for where you will position the escape window and how easy it will be to gain access to it. Now you need to consider the window size itself. Here are the requirements needed for an escape window.

Whatever escape window you decide to go for, it must have a minimum measurement of 450mm x 750mm, which will give you the required unobstructed opening area of 0.33m² (0.45 x 0.75 = 0.33m²). Both dimensions can be either the width or the height, but this is seen as the minimum size window for installation.

In the event of a fire, you must be able to climb out of the escape window with ease, and this is why it must be installed at eye-level. The sill of the escape roof window must be no more than 1.1m above the floor, offering the inhabitant a simple way to escape the room. 

Escape window regulations differ from England to Scotland. Speak to your local authority.

What escape windows are available from Sterlingbuild?

Means of escape windows are available for both pitched and flat roofs, and are most commonly found in residential areas. Escape windows for pitched roofs are available in either top hung or side hung operation, and available with ECO+, FAKRO, RoofLITE, Roto and VELUX.

VELUX escape windows come in top hung form only, and the minimum size to conform to escape regulations is 55x118cm

FAKRO escape windows are available in both top hung and side hung operation, with the minimum size for top hung being 78x118cm and for side hung being 66x78cm.

Top hung roof windows provide an easy escape in case of a fire

Above all else, speak to your local building control

The requirements for escape windows and the regulations for installing them are interpreted differently from one local authority to the next, so we do recommend speaking to your local building control before scheduling any installation. In England, the regulations set out by Building Control are different to those in Scotland, so once again, please speak to your local authority.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Planning Portal – Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

Planning Portal - Building Regulations Approved Document Park K

Local Authority Building Control

UK Fire Service – Fire safety in the home