IFC Compliant Emergency Exit Signs: Does your Building Need Them?

IFC compliant emergency exit signs, also known as running man signs and emergency exit symbols, play a major role in IFC (International Fire Code) egress safety. Created by the ICC (International Code Council) to address egress safety in new construction and existing buildings that have occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access, the IFC applies to all areas of egress safety. But for many building owners, even those who own buildings in states that haven’t adopted the code, its guidelines for outfitting vertical exit enclosures (referred to here as “enclosures”), remain the most crucial, as evacuations can easily produce fatalities or casualties that lead to lawsuits.

The Role of Emergency Exit Signs in Evacuation Safety

IFC approved exit signs indicate exit-leading doors within enclosures and passageways. But within enclosures, they work in tandem with luminescent egress stripes and floor identification signs. The stripes are applied to handrails and handrail extensions, potential egress obstacles, the leading edges of landings and stairs, the perimeter of landing areas, and the frames and hardware of exit-leading doors. Floor identification signs are posted at each floor landing within an enclosure and offer the following information: identification of the stair or ramp, floor level (also in Braille), total number of floors in the enclosure, availability of rook access, and the floor level of and direction toward the exit.

The luminescent egress stripes effectively outline the dimensions of an enclosure, while luminescent running man and floor identification signs direct evacuees toward exits, a scenario that requires all three implements to achieve the greatest safety effect. Due mostly to their promotion as a replacement for unreliable backup lighting, luminescent egress markings are the most recognized of the three. But without running man and floor identification signage, an evacuation could lack the strongest predictor of efficiency and expedience: calm, confident behavior by evacuees, an observation reinforced by a recent study performed by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Purchasing and Applying Running Man Signage

Running man signage can be purchased from online suppliers of photoluminescent safety products. Below, we list the type of sign that should be purchased and how to apply it according to the IFC.

IFC Specs for Running Man Signage

According to IFC 1024.2.6.1, running man signage should exhibit the following characteristics: luminescence, and a minimum of 4 inches in total height, both of which ensure its visibility when visibility is low.

IFC Application Guidelines for Running Man Signage

According to IFC 1024.2.6.1, running man signs should be centered on each exit-leading door within an enclosure, positioned 18 inches above the finished floor. This position allows the sign to be seen from standing and crawling positions.

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