The IFC (International Fire Code) is a code developed by the ICC (International Code Council) to regulate the egress safety of new and existing buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access. Currently, a version of the code has been adopted by at least 42 states, allowing owners of existing buildings in states that haven’t adopted it to implement its guidelines or not, whereas all new buildings implement them because each state has adopted a version of the IBC, a sister code that features the same egress regulations but regulates only new construction.
IFC Signage and Evacuation Safety
Applying fire safety signs by IFC regulations applies to more than vertical exit enclosures (referred to here as “enclosures”). But evacuation safety remains one of their commonest application focuses for three reasons: the code’s signage guidelines for enclosures are inexpensive, easy to implement, and markedly improve the safety of evacuees, in turn protecting building owners against lawsuits due to evacuation related injuries and casualties.
From ones that indicate fire extinguishers to ones that indicate assisted rescue areas, several types of fire safety and luminous exit signs that are acceptable under the code’s guidelines. But when it comes to evacuation, there are three types are more important than the rest: building exit, floor identification, and running man. Below, we look at each type in terms of evacuation safety.
The code recommends photoluminescent exit signs, as opposed to incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, or Tritium models, none of which offer the combination of visibility and reliability that luminescent signs do, which feature superior visibility in smoke and contain no breakable parts. As an added bonus, a photoluminescent sign is also the most cost effective exit sign, resulting in no maintenance, utility, or disposal costs.
Floor Identification Signage
The IFC requires the placement of photoluminescent floor identification at every floor landing within an enclosure. Mounted at 5 feet above the finished floor in a position that’s visible when doors are open or closed, they present the following information that helps evacuees to reach exits and feel more confident about reaching them, thus reducing panic: identification of the stair or ramp, floor level (also in Braille), top and bottom floors of the enclosure, and the story of and direction toward the exit.
Running Man Symbols
The IFC requires the placement of photoluminescent running man symbols on all exit-leading doors within enclosures, center mounted with their top not more than 18 inches above the finished floor, a position that allows them to be seen from a standing or crawling position. When combined with luminescent floor identification and exit signage, luminescent running man symbols comprise the best signage for evacuation that enclosures can contain.