In the past twenty years, infamous evacuations have revealed the inadequacy of backup lighting as a single source of egress path illumination—a revelation supported by numerous evacuation studies. Instead of relying on backup lighting alone, experts responsible for International Fire Code (IFC) and National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) guidelines advise the implementation of self-luminous safety systems that glow in the dark. Without them, egress flow can slow significantly when dense smoke is present. If your building contains only backup lighting, the following studies indicate the importance of implementing photoluminescent signage and egress markings.
The Mailman School of Public Health Study
Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University conducted a study of the individual and organizational factors influencing the evacuation time of World Trade Center occupants following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. According to the evacuees, the organizational factor of visual cues played a significant role in their evacuation time. When egress paths contained strong visual cues, they felt their evacuation time was decreased. When strong cues were not present, they felt it was increased.
Due to its superior visibility through smoke, glow in the dark egress lighting provides strong visual cues under conditions where backup lighting would not supply sufficient cues.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Study
Researchers at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) researched the movement speeds of evacuees in vertical exit enclosures during fire drill evacuations and compared the results to published evacuation data—including data from the evacuation of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011. Their conclusion: the behavior of evacuees could be a greater determinant of movement through vertical exit enclosures than the currently accepted determinants:
- Pre-evacuation delay
- Distance traveled
- Counterflow scenarios
- Stairwell geometry
- Number of evacuees in an enclosure
Glow in the dark egress lighting cannot deter certain types of behavior, but it helps to deter panic behavior resulting when the dimensions of a vertical exit enclosure appear indistinct.
The Norwegian InterConsult Group Study
Researchers from the Norwegian InterConsult Group used cameras to investigate the movements of evacuees during low visibility fire drills with smoke present. Their conclusion: evacuees in buildings containing self-luminous safety systems make fewer erroneous moves as they evacuate, and have a shorter evacuation time than evacuees in buildings containing backup lighting as the only means of egress path illumination.
This study proves what Glo-Brite has known for years: although valuable in some instances, the illumination provided by backup lighting is not as versatile as the illumination provided by glow in the dark egress lighting.
Glo-Brite has the Photoluminescent products you need
If your building relies on backup lighting alone to illuminate egress paths, implementing photoluminescent signs and egress markings can reduce evacuation time when smoke is present. At Glo-Brite, our luminescent egress products offer superior visibility when smoke is present, and burn for up to ninety-six hours in total darkness. To learn more about our products and their benefits, call us today.