If you are a building owner, and you are unsure of whether your structure is practicing the most optimal life and fire safety practices, two excellent sources to make sure you are within protocol, or need to implement higher product standards for your building, are the IBC and the IFC. Both the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) directly regulate the construction quality, structural stability, life safety, and fire safety of commercial and residential buildings, on a global scale. Established by the International Code Council (ICC) and updated every three years, the IBC regulates new building construction, and the IFC regulates new building construction, as well as the current standing for existing buildings. Both codes are widely accepted in North America. At present, all fifty states have adopted a version of the IBC, and as many as forty-two states have adopted a version of the IFC. Even in buildings that are located in states that have not adopted a version of the IFC, both IBC and IFC egress regulations are one of the most vigilantly practiced building safety standards in the United States. In order to fall under IBC and/or IFC egress regulations, most buildings must have occupied floors located above seventy-five feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.
Both IBC and IFC egress regulations are designed to ensure the welfare and safety of building occupants. These rules and guidelines also assure building owners that evacuations will go according to plan in hopes to decrease the probability of legal action that could result injuries and fatalities happen during a building emergency. In order to ensure the ultimate protection and safety of all building occupants, both codes require the application of luminous stripes, luminous emergency exit symbols, and luminous floor identification signs for the following egress system elements within exit enclosures:
- Steps (luminous stripes)
- Landing Areas (luminous stripes and floor identification signs)
- Handrails (luminous stripes)
- Obstacles (luminous stripes)
- Exit Leading Doors (luminous stripes and emergency exit symbols)
In the absence of luminous egress stripes and luminous signage, most building owners rely on emergency backup lighting to ensure evacuations occur without incident. However, there are two flaws concerning emergency backup lighting: auxiliary lighting does not perform well in the presence of smoke, and the auxiliary lighting is only as reliable as its power source. Conversely, luminous egress stripes and signage glow brilliantly and remain easily visible, despite the presence of smoke. In addition, the infusion of photoluminescent technology means these luminous emergency products do not require a power source, meaning they will continue to work, no matter the surrounding condition.