Egress Lighting Requirements: The Importance of Luminescent Egress Markings
Emergency egress lamps are a ubiquitous feature in commercial and residential buildings across the U.S., one that is implemented and maintained according to National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) guidelines. Yet, when their normal lighting goes out, buildings often need more than backup lights to help building occupants reach an exit; they also need luminescent markings, which absorb photons from ambient light and re-emit them, creating a bright glow. Currently, not all states have requirements for implementing luminescent stripes in addition to backup lighting. But the stripes’ importance to egress safety is nonetheless paramount.
NFPA exit lighting guidelines
The National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) exit lighting requirements involve four areas of focus: power source requirements, performance requirements, operational requirements, and testing requirements. When adhered to vigilantly, the NFPA’s egress lighting requirements ensure that backup lighting remains operational. They do not, however, protect it from malfunctioning due to falling debris, explosions, or generator failure. This is why building owners implement luminescent stripes in their building’s egress paths.
Implementing luminescent markings
When applying luminescent markings to regular egress paths (e.g. hallways and corridors), building owners should refer to the NFPA’s Life Safety Code. The code recommends placing a continuous, horizontal stripe on the walls of egress paths, and a continuous stripe in the middle of the floor of egress paths. For applying luminescent stripes to vertical exit enclosures, the International Fire Code (IFC) is the ideal reference source.
Created by the International Code Council (ICC), the IFC regulates the construction quality, structural stability, and fire safety of commercial and residential R1 buildings that contain occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access. The IFC requires luminescent striping to be applied to the following areas and equipment in vertical exit enclosures: handrails and handrail extensions, the leading edges of stairs and landings, the perimeter of landing areas, egress path obstacles, and the doorframes and door hardware of exit-leading doors.
When applied according to IFC guidelines, luminescent stripes outline critical areas and equipment in vertical exit enclosures, making them visible in the dark, even when smoke is present. Conversely, even when maintained according to NFPA egress lighting requirements, backup lighting tends to get lost in smoke, leaving exit stairwells dim and shadowy.
According to a 2009 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, (NIST) the behavior of evacuees plays a critical role in evacuation time, with evacuees who exhibit counterintuitive behavior often causing egress jams that could prove fatal. Luminescent stripes help to prevent this from happening by providing visual cues that encourage quick, productive decisions.
At Jessup Manufacturing, we understand the importance of outfitting egress paths with luminescent striping. That’s why we spent over ten years developing our patented Glo Brite technology that offers superior illumination and burn time. If your building meets the NFPA’s egress lighting requirements, but it doesn’t meet the NFPA’s or IFC’s luminescent egress marking requirements, don’t gamble on the safety of your building occupants. Choose from our selection of NFPA and IFC compliant luminescent stripes today.