Along with photoluminescent floor exit signs, photoluminescent egress markings, photoluminescent emergency exit symbols, and photoluminescent floor identification signs (a.k.a level indicators) play a crucial role in evacuation safety, particularly within vertical exit enclosures, the long stairwells used in the event of fires, earthquakes, blackouts, or other emergencies.
The international Building Code (IBC), which regulates new construction and has been adopted by all 50 states, and the International Fire Code (IFC), which regulates new and existing construction and has been adopted by at least 42 states, require floor identification signs in commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest point of fire vehicle access, leaving many buildings with the option of implementing the codes’ identification sign guidelines or not.
If you own a building in a state that isn’t subject to the IFC, you still have reasons to implement its type of level indicators, not least for their ability to help keep evacuees confident and calm, the biggest determinant in whether an evacuation goes expediently and problem-free or lags and features injuries and/or casualties. Below, we list three benefits of implementing luminous floor identification signs according the IFC.
Four Benefits of Implementing IFC Floor Identification Signs
Every building that has vertical exit enclosures has level indicators in them, but not all indicators are the same. When you implement IFC level indicators, you realize the following benefits.
1. Improved Reliability
The code insists on luminescent signage and egress markings for a reason: they offer superior visibility during low visibility, even when smoke is present. And they never malfunction like backup lighting, which is usually combined with non-luminescent safety signage to form an accident waiting to happen, like the one that occurred following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, when bombs destroyed the World Trade Center’s back generators that powered its backup lighting, leaving thousands of building occupants to navigate vertical exit enclosures in the dark.
2. Superior Information
The code requires a level indicator to provide the following information: the identification of the stair or ramp, floor level (also in Braille), the total number of levels in an enclosure, whether roof access is available, and the story of and direction toward the building exit. Other types of indicators contain pieces of this information, leaving evacuees uninformed about crucial aspects of their location, a situation that could induce panic.
3. Improved Evacuation Time
Is it a stretch to say that IFC level indicators can improve evacuation time? Not really. Because their consummate presentation of information helps to keep evacuees aware of their location and traveling toward an exit, they contribute to improved evacuation time, especially when operating in tandem with the aforementioned photoluminescent egress implements.