Implementing Photoluminescent Safety Signs is Critical for Fire Evacuations

Those who are familiar with International Building Code (IBC) egress regulations will remember its preference for photoluminescent safety signs. In fact, many signs required by the IBC, which regulates new construction in all 50 states in commercial and residential R1 buildings that contain occupancy at above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, are required in photoluminescent form, particularly emergency exit symbols—also known as running man signs—and floor identification signs, both of which inform building occupants of exit-leading doors with vertical exit enclosures and exit passageways.

Although IBC compliant exit signs and floor identification signs are ideal for evacuations precipitated by blackouts as well; their greatest value is the communication of critical information in the event of low visibility fire evacuations, which are generally complicated by two factors: the need to evacuate building occupants as quickly as possible, and the presence of thickening smoke, which reduces visibility and can seriously compromise evacuation time if the proper safety indications aren’t easily visible through smoke. By offering superior visibility through smoke at 100 feet, photoluminescent safety signs meet this need.

Whereas the IBC regulates egress safety in new construction, its sister code, the International Fire Code (IFC) regulates egress safety in both new construction and existing buildings in at least 42 states, leaving some building owners with the option of whether or not to implement its guidelines. Because most buildings never experience an emergency evacuation, not outfitting a building with IBC and IFC guidelines would seldom result in a true safety issue. But in the event of a fire evacuation that produces injuries and/or casualties due to a poorly outfitted emergency egress system, building owners can expect to pay the price in lawsuits and damaged reputation. Outfitting a building with IBC and IFC egress guidelines requires a small amount of time and money, but not doing so could cost a fortune.

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