The Current Bleacher Code

The international Building Code (IBC) requires that a 4" sphere cannot pass through openings per the following:


Section 1008.14 Bleacher footboards. Bleacher footboards shall be provided for rows of seat above the third row or being at such a point where the seating plank is more than 24 inches above the ground floor below. Where footboards are more than 30 inches above grade, openings between the seat and footboards shall not allow the passage of a sphere greater than 4 inches.


Summary: Double footboards and a 6" riser provide for openings of less than 4".


You do not need double footboards and riserboards on three and four row bleachers because they are not higher than 30". Five rows or higher have to have the extra footboard and riser.
The International Building Code (IBC) requires that guardrails be provided if the rear of the bleacher is higher than 30".


Section 1003.2.12 Guards. Guards shall be located along open-sided walking surfaces, platforms and landings which are located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below. Guards shall also be located along sides of stairways and landings that are located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below.


Section 1008.13.3 Guards at the end of aisles. A fascia or railing system complying with the guard requirements of Section 1003.2.12 shall be provided for the full width of the aisle where the foot of the aisle is more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below. The railing shall be a minimum of 36 inches high and shall provide a minimum 42 inches between the top of the rail and the nosing of the nearest tread.


Summary: If the rear of the bleacher is higher than 30" then you must have a guardrail system. The rear height of all bleachers 5 rows or more are higher than 30" and therefore have to have railings.
The International Building Code (IBC) requires that an aisle shall be provided for all occupied portions of the bleacher.


Section 1004.3.1 Aisles. Aisles shall be provided from all occupied portions of the exit access which contains seats. Aisles serving reviewing stands, grandstands and bleachers shall also comply with Section 1008.


Section 1008.8 Assembly aisles are required. Every occupied portion of any occupancy in Group A that contains seats shall be provided with aisles leading to exits in accordance with this section.


Summary: A five row or higher bleacher must have a vertical aisle.
The International Building Code (IBC) has an Exception to the aisle rule.


Section 1008.8, Exception. An aisle is not required in seating facilities where all of the following conditions exist:


  1. Seats are without backrests.
  2. The rise from row to row does not exceed 6 inches per row.
  3. The row spacing does not exceed 28 inches.
  4. The first seating board is not more than 12 inches above the ground.
  5. Seat boards have a continuous flat surface.
  6. Seat boards provide a walking surface with a minimum width of 11 inches.
  7. Seating is not restricted by rails or guards.


Summary: If the rear of the bleacher is less than 30 inches in height then you don't have to have a guardrail system which meets the #7 criteria. To meet #1 - 6 you decrease the standard rise from 8" to 6", decrease the height of the first seat from a standard 17" to 12" and increase the seat board width from 10" to 12". By doing the above a three and four row bleacher does not need an aisle.
  1. If another company is offering bleachers that do not have aisles, double footboards, risers and guardrails it should be evident that they are attempting to lower their cost, sell below market. Are they attempting to get you to purchase a liability?
  2. If another company is offering bleachers with and without aisles, double footboards, risers and guardrails then are they not putting the liability of determining code compliance in your hands?
  3. Ask a supplier to explain to you why they can sell bleachers without aisles, double footboards or risers. If their answer is that it is not their responsibility to determine what code your local or state officials are enforcing then the liability shifts to you. Do you want the company that you are purchasing bleachers from to shift this liability to you?
  4. It is a fact that 99.9% of all state and local building departments are under the International Building Code (IBC) as it pertains to bleachers. Why would you purchase a bleacher that does not meet your codes? You wouldn't.
  5. Once you know how codes relate to bleachers then you can take this knowledge and not only make an intelligent purchase but relay your knowledge to others on your committee or staff.
  6. The customer should be able to get the proper information from a supplier as it relates to what meets codes in order to feel secure in placing an order.
  7. One of the reasons that there are codes is to solve safety issues. As a customer you want to make sure your patrons are in a safe environment.
  8. As a company you can compete on price or quality but not both. If you are competing on price in the bleacher industry then you will ignore code requirements to lower your cost and forego quality.
  9. If a customer tells a supplier that they don't care about codes, only a low price, then all reputable companies will not pursue this type of customer.
  10. Ask questions, determine code knowledge of suppliers, compare pricing and make an intelligent purchase.