International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC)
The International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) regulate the construction quality, structural stability, life safety and fire safety of commercial and residential buildings worldwide. Established by the International Code Council (ICC) and updated every three years, the IBC regulates new construction and the IFC regulates new construction and existing buildings. Both codes are widely accepted in North America; currently, all 50 states have adopted a version of the IBC and at least 42 states have adopted a version of the IFC.
Even in buildings that are located in states that have not adopted a version of the IFC, IBC and IFC egress regulations are one of the most vigilantly practiced building safety standards in the U.S. To fall under IBC and IFC egress regulations, institutional, educational, business, hotel, public assembly or R-1 residential buildings must have occupied floors that are located above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. However, smaller buildings that are not IBC and IFC regulated regularly implement the codes egress regulations.
IBC and IFC egress regulations are designed to ensure the welfare of building occupants, but they also assure building owners that evacuations will go as planned, decreasing the chance of legal action that can result when building emergencies produce injuries and fatalities. To protect building occupants safety, the codes require the application of luminous stripes, luminous emergency exit symbols and luminous floor identification signs to the following egress system elements within exit enclosures:
- Steps (luminous stripes)
- Landing Areas (luminous stripes, floor identification signs)
- Handrails (luminous stripes)
- Obstacles (luminous stripes)
- Exit Leading Doors (luminous stripes, emergency exit symbols)
In the absence of luminous egress stripes and luminous signage, most building owners rely on emergency backup lighting to ensure that evacuations go as planned. But emergency backup lighting has two weaknesses: it does not perform well in the presence of stratified smoke and it is only as reliable as its power source. Conversely, luminous egress stripes and signage brightly glow in total darkness, and their photoluminescent technology means that they do not require a power source.