According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), smoke inhalation is responsible for 73% of deaths that occur during building fires. Depending on the smoke thickness and the gases it contains, the time it takes to perish from smoke inhalation ranges from less than a minute to perhaps several minutes. Therefore, the best strategy against smoke inhalation is to implement egress measures that reduce evacuation time.
In most cases, a well-rehearsed evacuation plan improves evacuation time. But carrying out the plan could require locating emergency egress paths during low visibility. To ensure that egress paths and their critical elements remain visible, the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) require commercial and residential R1 buildings that have occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access to implement a luminescent marking at various points in vertical exit enclosures.
Critical elements that require a luminescent egress marking
The IBC and IFC require that the following elements within vertical exit enclosures receive a luminescent egress safety marking: the leading edges of steps and landings, handrails and handrail extensions, the perimeter of landing areas, egress path obstacles, and the doorframes and door hardware of exit leading doors.
When applied according to IBC and IFC guidelines, luminescent markings make the dimensions and equipment in vertical exit enclosures easily visible in total darkness. Unlike backup lighting, luminescent markings are impervious to falling debris and explosions, and their illumination is not compromised by smoke or dust.
Egress safety marking for other egress areas
Outfitting vertical exit enclosures with luminescent markings can improve evacuation time. But when visibility is low, finding a vertical exit enclosure can be a challenge in itself. To help building occupants locate vertical exit enclosures, building owners should mount luminous directional signs on the walls of egress pathways (e.g. main hallways and corridors) in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code 101. In addition, the Photoluminescent Safety Association (PSA) and Photoluminescent Safety Products Association (PSPA) recommend placing a continuous luminescent stripe in the center of egress pathways to improve evacuees’ travel time.
The impact of luminescent markings for evacuees
According to a 2009 study performed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), psychological and behavioral factors play a significant role in evacuation time. Therefore, helping evacuees make the right decisions in the midst of their panic could mean the difference between smooth evacuations and ones that lead to injuries and casualties. An egress marking is a strip of photoluminescent tape, but when applied according to IBC and IFC guidelines, it can save lives.
To protect against fire casualties, buildings must have the correct egress measures in place. At Jessup Manufacturing, we understand the challenges building owners face when they improve their buildings’ evacuation safety. That’s why we design photoluminescent products that are inexpensive and easy to implement, but that dramatically improve egress safety. If your building needs to upgrade its emergency egress system, contact us today to see how our patented Glo Brite technology can improve evacuation safety.