Backup lighting, non-luminous signs, and generators have been the typical safety precautions in most buildings throughout the years. Many building disasters have triggered a change in safety regulation standards and how they are viewed by the owners of these structures. One such incident that pushed this change was the World Trade Center bombing that occurred in 1993. The bombing itself shattered the generators used for backup lighting. This left the hallways and stairs in complete darkness. More fatalities and injuries resulted due to this oversight in building safety. Generators do not always work or may be damaged. As a response to this tragic event, many states and local areas began learning about and enforcing the International Building Codes (IBC) and International Fire Codes (IFC) set forth by the ICC.
Building owners should follow these guidelines for increased occupant safety. Backup lighting is not reliable and non-luminous signs do nothing in conditions where lighting is not present. Smoky buildings also render non-luminous egress markings as useless. These issues have caused many injuries and fatalities due to the inability of individuals to find exit points within a building. Injuries caused when an emergency evacuation is necessary are the direct responsibility of the owner. Lawsuits against owners are common in these situations. Even with these additional costs and risks, many owners still write these codes off as an uncalled for expense. This is because most buildings never experience this type of event. They also still believe that older technology is enough to get occupants out safely.
IBC Compliant Exit Signs: Newer Signage Materials Increase Safety
Time and time again the same tragic ending as experienced in the World Trade Center bombing has occurred. It is these situations that brought forth the adoption of building codes by most states. Included in the guidelines are IBC compliant exit signs. Most building owners install the bare minimum of lighted exit signs and backup generators. When the generators fail, people get hurt. Signs made from luminous materials are beginning to take the place of older, less efficient safety methods. Building owners have realized that signage and markings made from luminescent materials is just as affordable. They are installed and no more must be done. Electricity does not have to be in the equation. Luminous materials are not high maintenance and are visible during any situation. Many buildings are starting to use them in place of previous signs practices because of incidences just like the one described above.
If there is uncertainty about your building’s safety signs and practices, it might be time to evaluate them to ensure they are adequate. These guidelines change every year. As a crisis occurs, more information is collected to provide safer environments for building occupants. When the building is constructed, it may be in compliance and safe. Over time the measures become outdated. Do not make the mistake of thinking occupants are safe because your building met code five or ten years ago. An inspection every few years is a one way to determine what needs to be changed for increased safety. The cost is often minimal and worth its weight if an emergency takes place.