Last month in Los Angeles, firefighters responded to an emergency call from the fifth floor of a five-story office building. Two people were trapped inside the building by a fire that had broken out, and firefighters were eventually able to rescue the people. However, it took the firefighters over an hour to put the fire out, and over the course of the entire emergency, 177 firefighters were called to the scene.
Again, this building was only five stories high, and still it took 177 people to handle the situation. In emergencies like this, high rise egress markings are vitally important. The two people inside the building were trapped by the flames and could not get to emergency exits, but the firefighters almost certainly used emergency stairwells to navigate the building.
Situations like this underscore just how valuable an effective high rise emergency escape system is. People in buildings need to be able to easily see emergency exit signs no matter where they are in the building, and even in smoky conditions. Once they make it to a stairwell, it’s also important to be able to see the stairs ahead of them and make their way out of the building as quickly as possible.
Likewise, emergency egress systems help firefighters navigate buildings that have lost power or are filled with smoke. Under current fire codes, emergency exit signs must remain illuminated for 90 minutes following a crisis. Based on this LA office building fire, it’s easy to see why that number is so important.
Unfortunately, many electric exit signs fail to adhere to this 90 minute requirement. Electric exit signs rely on a backup battery pack when the electricity goes out. These battery packs are supposed to be drained and fully recharged once a year, but that rarely happens. As a result, it’s estimated the 40% to 60% of all exit signs are not up to code.
With photoluminescent exit systems, lack of power is not a concern. Photoluminescent signs are charged by the ambient light around them and are tested to glow in excess of 90 minutes when fully charged. In New York City, a local law actually requires photoluminescent strips be used to mark stairwells in high rise buildings. Clearly, fire fighters and building inspectors trust the reliability of photoluminescent exit systems.
Learn more about replacing your high rise egress markings with photoluminescent safety materials by contacting Jessup Manufacturing, makers of GloBrite, and speak with a member form our team.