Last edited 26 Feb 2019

Protected escape route

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Approved document B, Fire Safety, Volume 2, Buildings other than dwellinghouses, defines an escape route as:

‘...that part of the means of escape from any point in a building to a final exit’, where a final exit is, ‘The termination of an escape route from a building giving direct access to a street, passageway, walkway or open space and sited to ensure the rapid dispersal of persons from the vicinity of a building so that they are no longer in danger from fire and/or smoke.’

Escape routes can be protected or unprotected, where an unprotected escape routes is the unprotected part of an escape route, ‘…which a person has to traverse before reaching either the safety of a final exit or the comparative safety of a protected escape route, i.e. a protected corridor or protected stairway.'

A protected corridor/lobby is, 'A corridor or lobby which is adequately protected from fire in adjoining accommodation by fire-resisting construction.'

A protected stairways is, ‘...designed to provide virtually ‘fire sterile’ areas which lead to places of safety outside the building. Once inside a protected stairway, a person can be considered to be safe from immediate danger from flame and smoke. They can then proceed to a place of safety at their own pace. To enable this to be done, flames, smoke and gases must be excluded from these escape routes, as far as is reasonably possible, by fire-resisting structures or by an appropriate smoke control system, or by a combination of both these methods. This does not preclude the use of unprotected stairs for day-to-day circulation, but they can only play a very limited role in terms of means of escape due to their vulnerability in fire situations.'


  • A protected entrance hall/landing is, ‘A circulation area consisting of a hall or space in a flat, enclosed with fire-resisting construction (other than any part which is an external wall of a building).
  • A protected shaft is, ‘A shaft which enables persons, air or objects to pass from one compartment to another and which is enclosed with fire-resisting construction.’

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