Applying Demarcation Lines According to the IBC and IFC

Demarcation lines—also referred to as egress markings—are applied in commercial and residential buildings to improve egress safety, usually in accordance with International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) guidelines, which require that luminescent markings be placed in the exit enclosures of commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy at above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. A version of the IBC, which regulates new construction, has been adopted by all 50 states, while a version of the IFC, which regulates new construction and existing construction, has been adopted by at least 42 states.

The Importance of Photoluminescent Egress Systems

Prior to the IBC and IFC, exit enclosures in most commercial and residential R1 buildings relied on back up lighting that posed a critical danger: it didn’t illuminate well in the presence of thick smoke. Electricity-free luminescent products avoid this danger by radiating an electromagnetic glow instead of burning incandescently or with LED bulbs. Below, we cover the IBC and IFC sections for implementing luminescent demarcation lines.

1024.2.4 Perimeter Markings

A solid, continuous line between 1-2 inches wide should be applied to stair landings and floor areas, mounted on the floor, on the wall, or a combination of both. The line should not be mounted on the sides of steps, and any interruptions should not exceed 4 inches (e.g. where a wall mounted line transitions to a floor mounted one).

1024.2.4.1 Floor-mounted Markings

Floor Mounted lines should be located within 4 inches of the wall and extend to within 2 inches of lines applied to the front edges of landings. A floor-mounted line should continue in front of all doors, except doors that lead to exits.

1024.2.4.2 Wall-mounted Markings

A wall-mounted line should be located with its bottom edge no higher than 4 inches above the floor. Where stairs begin or end, the line should transition vertically to the floor not more than two inches from the edge of the step or landing, where it should continue as a floor mounted line as long as its position is the practical way to outline the egress path. A wall-mounted line should continue in front of all doors, or transition to the floor and run in front of them, except doors that lead to exits.

1024.2.4.3 Line Transition

When a wall-mounted line transitions to a floor mounted one, it should transition vertically to meet a floor-mounted line that keeps the demarcation line continuous. The same applies for when a floor mounted-line transitions to a wall-mounted one.

Outfitting your Exit Enclosures with Luminescent Markings

If you own a building in a state that hasn’t adopted a version of the IFC, applying demarcation lines according to the code’s guidelines it’s still crucial for protecting building occupants against injuries and fatalities that can result from poor egress safety. By making your vertical exit enclosures safer, you’ll also protect yourself against the legal action that typically follows such happenings.

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