In most cases, a commercial or residential R1 building’s egress safety is addressed during its construction and not thereafter, a situation that can lead to buildings that contain vertical exit enclosures and exit passageways that are primed for injuries and casualties in the event of a low visibility fire evacuation. To prevent such scenarios, safety conscious building owners across the U.S. consult the International Fire Code (IFC), which has been adopted by at least 42 states and regulates the egress safety of commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy at above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.
When you read the IFC’s 2009 version, you’ll find numerous guidelines for implementing IFC compliant exit signs, one of the most important of which a photoluminescent emergency exit only sign—also known as a running man sign—on all exit leading doors within vertical exit enclosures and exit passageways. Applying an emergency exit only sign is easy as peeling away the covering from its adhesive backing and centering it the middle of a door some 18 inches above the floor, providing easy visibility for standing evacuees and evacuees that crawl to avoid smoke inhalation.
Running man signs have been around for decades. But, until recently, building owners were limited to using reflective running man signs, which have little effect in the presence of thickening smoke. But with the availability of photoluminescent running man signs, which absorb photons, form their surroundings and re-remit them to create a bright glowing effect, building owners have an answer for when vertical exit enclosures contain enough smoke that emergency back up lighting is rendered ineffective. If you own a building in a state that hasn’t adopted a version of the IFC, don’t gamble with your building occupants’ safety; implement IFC guidelines today.