Mechanical Equipment in Attic Spaces & Permanent Access

IBC 2006, Clubhouse for Neighborhood
1-story, Type 5B, A3

It has always been my understanding you need to provided permanent access to mechanical equipment.

As such, we are proposing to locate the mechanical equipment in the attic space and provide a commercial grade fold-down stair for a small clubhouse (essentially a residential style building). I reviewed the IBC and IMC and do not see any parameters or anything saying yes or no for a fold-down stair. The codes mention ladders, alternating treads, etc, but not a fold-down stair.

Q: Would a fold-down stair be acceptable for permanent access to the equipment in this application. Please cite any specific code sections or other codes (CBC maybe) that have language addressing this condition.

Original Post
Read 305.0 Access, there is no indication of a ladder requirement for equipment located overhead or in an attic. The requirements describe clear width and height of access to the equipment, structural support and seismic protections but no ladder.

If a ladder is provided then OSHA may be a concern based on height but a fold-down, based on location, may be a fire seperation issue if penetrating a rated ceiling.
Depends on where you are in Texas
this is from Irving, Texas
Section 306.3. Section 306.3 of Section 306 “Access and Service Space” of Chapter 3 “General Regulations” of the 2006 International Mechanical Code is amended to read as follows:
306.3 Appliances in attics. Attics containing appliances requiring access shall be provided with an opening and unobstructed passageway large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance. The passageway shall not be less than 30 inches high and 22 inches wide and not more than 20 feet in length measured along the center line of the passageway from the opening to the appliance. The passageway shall have continuous solid flooring not less than 24 inches wide. A level service space not less than 30 inches deep and 30 inches wide shall be present at the front or service side of the appliance. The clear access opening dimensions shall be a minimum of 20 inches by 30 inches, or larger where such dimensions are not large enough to allow removal of the largest appliance. As a minimum, for access to the attic space, provide one of the following:
1. A permanent stair.
2. A pull down stair.
3. An access door from an upper floor level.
4. An access panel may be used in lieu of items 1, 2, and 3 with prior approval of the code official due to building conditions.
1. The passageway and level service space are not required where the appliance is capable of being serviced and removed through the required opening.
2. Where the passageway is unobstructed and not less than 6 feet high and 22 inches wide for its entire length, the passageway shall be not greater than 50 feet in length.
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