On an average day, your building’s egress traffic flows smoothly. But what would happen if your building experienced a low visibility evacuation? Could building occupants identify safety indicators and move toward exit stairwells, or would they flounder in a haze of smoke and confusion? For many building owners, these questions come too late. After years of experiencing no evacuations, their inattention to egress safety results in un-maintained exit stairwells that feature an absence of the most critical floor safety sign of all: a luminescent floor identification sign.
How Much Difference Could a Floor Safety Sign Make?
The importance of floor identification signs concerns their placement according to the International Fire Code (IFC): at every floor landing within exit stairwells. In botched evacuations, building occupants typically reach stairwells with relative ease. But their sense of panic can turn traversing stairwells in an organized fashion into a mad rush for the exit, complete with trampling, tripping, and egress jams. Can floor identification signs stop such events?
To the extent that safety signs provide evacuees with information about their surroundings, they reduce their panic. And floor identification signs provide critical information, including: numeric and Braille identification of floor levels, the terminus of the top and bottom of the stairwell, and the story of and direction toward the building exit.
States that have adopted a version of the IFC require all commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicles access to implement floor identification signs. But even if you own a building in a state that that hasn’t adopted IFC guidelines, implementing floor identification signs could still mean the difference between orderly evacuations and ones that feature injuries and casualties.