Tragic fire in Long Beach: Sleeping rooms without a window or door to the outside are illegal

Two girls died in a fire this morning in Long Beach and reports in an article initially stated that the garage in which they were sleeping was legally converted to living space. Later, Long Beach Fire Capt. Mike Duree said the garage was not permitted for residency.

Specifically, the garage was divided into two spaces, and the room in which the girls were sleeping had no window, no smoke alarm and no fire sprinklers. If it had, they might have escaped. A sleeping area with no window or exterior door, and no means of egress to the outside, is radically not legal. And just so that nobody thinks it is, I looked up the code.

Here’s what the city of Long Beach website has to say about safety codes for windows:

Light: All rooms within a dwelling unit shall be provided with natural light by means of exterior glazed openings with an area not less than 1/10 of the floor area of such rooms with a minimum of 10 square feet. The exceptions to this requirement are kitchens and bathrooms that may be provided with artificial light.

Ventilation: All rooms within a dwelling unit shall be provided with natural ventilation by means of openable exterior openings with an area of not less than 1/20 of the floor area of the room with a minimum of 5 square feet. Bathroom and toilet rooms shall have an aggregate window area of not less than one-twentieth of the floor area served, and with not less than 1-1/2 square feet of openable window area, or be provided with artificial light and mechanical ventilation.

Emergency Egress Windows and Doors: Every sleeping room below the fourth floor shall have at least one openable window or door to the outside to permit emergency exit or rescue. The emergency door or window shall be openable from the inside to provide a full, clear opening without the use of separate tools. Windows shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches above the floor. Windows shall comply with all the following three conditions:

1. Provide not less than 5.7 square feet of clear openable area.
2. Provide a net clear opening width of not less than 20" and;
3. Provide a net clear height of not less than 24".

Security Bars: Security bars may be installed on emergency escape and rescue windows provided the security bars are equipped with approved release mechanisms which are openable from the inside without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.