Question of the Day - #12 Special Knowledge Allowed Windows

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Question of the Day - #12 Special Knowledge Allowed Windows

Postby RDavidson » Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:17 am

2015 Amended R310.1.4 Operational constraints. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge.
Exception: Windows with approved window opening control devices and installed in accordance with ASTM F2090. The devices shall not require the use of keys or tools to operate.

The change that occurred in this amendment is that the reference to “special knowledge” was removed from the exception found in the IRC. The reason that was given for the amendment was (based on the SONAR) that “The Department learned that some jurisdictions have prohibited the installation of window control devices, citing IRC section 310.1.4, Operational constraints, which states, “Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge”. Those jurisdictions that have prohibited the installation of the devices believed that the window control devices required special knowledge for occupant use.”

Ok, window opening control devices are not required by the current Minnesota Residential Code. Are there contractors who are installing large numbers of windows with opening control devices in single family homes voluntarily and upon inspection, are ordered to remove code compliant devices? Is anyone seeing these devices being voluntarily installed in large numbers? If DLI had been receiving complaints about that matter of window fall protection devices wouldn’t it have been more expedient to contact those building officials and enlighten them rather than waiting the few years it takes a text amendment to occur to correct the problem?

The solution (amendment), it seems, creates other issues. It opens the door to the fact that special knowledge can be permitted to operate a window with opening control devices because there is a clear distinction in the section between windows with and without opening control devices. The user of the code can reasonably conclude that there must a reason why the term “special knowledge” was left out and that is that “special knowledge” is permissible.

Then there is the text in the exception that states “Windows with approved window opening control devices installed in accordance with ASTM F2090.” The troublesome word is “approved”. The text should have said “Windows with window opening control devices meeting ASTM F 2090”. The use of the term “approved” creates an unnecessary liability for building officials. The term is defined in the code. It requires discretion on the part of the building official based on analysis of some proposal. This use of the term is unique in the Minnesota Residential Code because all other places where the term “approved” is used pertain to generic situations. For example, it might say “approved non-combustible material or approved water supply or approved agency”. In this case, the building official is supposed to approve a device that is already listed as meeting ASTM F 2090. It is careless to place this term in the code, particularly when the issue has been politicized, publicized, and litigated as this issue has.

The ICC website describes ASTM F 2090 as follows: “This specification establishes the installation, safety, performance, and labeling requirements for devices intended to address the risk of injury and death associated with accidental falls from windows by children five years old and younger. It applies to window fall prevention devices that are to be used on any window, including those that are designated for emergency escape (egress) and rescue (ingress). It is, however, not intended to meet the unique requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” Doesn’t this pretty much cover every aspect of the use of window opening control devices? Of course it does.

Why should the building official have to “approve” devices that have already gone through an approval process? If there is a failure of one of these devices, does the requirement that you had discretionary approval place any additional liability on you? Is this careless code writing? Thoughts?
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