Floor identification signs (a.k.a. level indicators) provide information about floor levels, usually in buildings that have two or more stories. Typically found in commercial and residential R1 buildings, the signs are an integral part of evacuation safety, especially when they meet IFC (International Fire Code) guidelines. Currently, a version of the IFC, which regulates egress safety in commercial and residential R1 buildings with occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access, has been adopted by 42 states. But even in states not subject to the code, its guidelines are still critical for evacuation safety. Below, we examine how level indicators improve the safety of vertical exit enclosures and IFC floor identification sign requirements regarding the design and application of the indicators.
Floor Identification Signage Among other Egress Elements
While the effect of a level indicator by itself is valuable, its ultimate effect comes when it serves in a larger system of egress safety measures, complete with luminescent building exit signs, egress markings and floor exit signs (a.k.a. running man signs). In such a system, the signs serve as information posts that reveal crucial information about evacuees’ location within vertical exit enclosures. According to IFC 1022.8.1, a level indicator should contain the following information: identification of the stair or ramp, level (also in Braille), total number of levels within the enclosure, availability of roof access, and the level of and direction toward the building exit.
When presented in the proper fashion on signage that has the proper design, the information helps evacuees to feel more calm and collected, traits that encourage expedient, problem-free evacuations. According to IFC 1022.8, the signage should contain the following design elements: photoluminescence, a size of at least 18 inches by 12 inches, letters that identify the stair enclosure at least 1.5 inches tall, a number that identifies the level at least 5 inches tall and positioned in the center of the sign, other letters and numbers at least 1 inch tall, characters and background that have a non-glare finish, and either light characters against a dark background or dark characters against a light background.
Once you have the best level indicators, the key is to mount them in the best position. According to IFC 1022.8, the indicators should be mounted 5 feet above the finished floor in a position that remains visible when doors are open or closed. Level indicators that exhibit the proper information, design, and mounting are essential to ensuring the safety of your building occupants in the event of low visibility evacuations, and your own safety regarding lawsuits that often follow evacuation related injuries and casualties. IFC level indicators can be purchased through online sellers of photoluminescent safety products.