Two sets of codes developed by the International Code Council regulate building and fire safety in an occupied building. The first set is commonly referred to as the International Building Code (IBC). These policies standardize safety precautions in buildings being constructed. A second set of policies labeled as the International Fire Code (IFC) applies to both newly constructed and already existing buildings. The ICC changes and adds to these policies in three year intervals. Both set sets of codes are followed and accepted widely in North America. As of the current date, fifty states use IBC codes for buildings and another forty-two or more also implement safety measures described under IFC regulations. These codes are commonly followed even in states that do not require them to be met. When they are not obligatory, they are still quite often practiced in new and old buildings alike.
Not all buildings meet IBC and IFC qualifications for policy enforcement. Any building that is required to follow their policies is required to have floors with occupants. These floors have to be seventy-five feet above the lowest access level for fire vehicles to be obligated for compliance. Institutional, educational, business, hotel, and certain residential buildings fall under these codes if they meet the height and occupant requirements stated above. IBC compliant components are not always mandatory in a building. Smaller buildings can follow their safety guidelines and measures to benefit from the additional safety these components provide.
Roles Played by Building & Fire Codes
Building & fire codes were designed by the ICC to better protect the welfare of anyone occupying a building. This is their main purpose, but not the only one they server. When you own a building, liabilities such as personal injury on the premises are a risk. Anything that can be done to prevent these occurrences is beneficial. If the appropriate signs have not been put in place and result in injury, a long and drawn out legal battle may follow. Improper signing and route identification will be in favor of the occupant who suffered the injury. Following these set policies decreases the chance of injury or death in an emergency situation. Areas for application include steps, landing areas, handrails, obstacles, and exit leading doors. Luminous striping may be required in combination with luminous signs for some of these elements.
IBC and IFC codes specifically lay out the placement of luminous stripes, exit symbols, and floor identification signs on and around exit enclosures for evacuation assistance. When these identifiers are absent in a building, back up lighting is the only tool left to rely on. But what happens when these lights do not work or the building is too smoky for them to be effective? It all depends upon the type of striping and signs that have been installed. If they are non-luminous, most likely occupants will get lost and badly injured. You can avoid these possibilities by placing luminous identification materials by exit enclosures and in landing areas. These are viewable when there are no lights or there is too much smoke providing the ultimate informational guide during an urgent situation.