Emergency Exit Symbols According to the IFC

The IFC (International Fire Code) was created by the International Code Council (ICC) to regulate the egress safety in commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access. The code’s guidelines address all egress concerns. But their most popular application has been to vertical exit enclosures (referred to here as “enclosures”), the long stairwells that building occupants use in place of elevators during evacuations.

According to the IFC, enclosures require two safety measures in addition to proper construction: the application of luminescent egress markings to potential egress path obstacles, handrails and handrail extensions, the leading edges of steps and landings, the perimeter of landing areas, and the doorframes and hardware of exit-leading doors; and the application of safety signage, particularly floor identification signs and emergency exit signs, also known as emergency exit symbols and running man signs.

IFC Specs for Running Man Signage

As with luminescent markings and floor identification postings, the IFC makes specific what type of running man signs should be implemented. According to IFC 1024.2.6.1, running man signage should exhibit the following characteristics: luminescence, and a minimum of 4 inches in total height.

IFC Application Guidelines for Running Man Signage

According to IFC 1024.2.6.1, a running man sign should be center mounted on each    exit-leading door within an enclosure, positioned 18 inches above the finished floor. This position allows the sign to be seen from both standing and crawling positions.

IFC Running Man Signs Versus Traditional Ones

Traditionally, running man signs feature reflectivity instead of photoluminescence, a process that occurs when an object absorbs photons and then emits them, creating a bright glow. The primary difference between the two, of course, is that the former relies on emergency back up lighting in the event of low visibility, while the latter is self-sustaining, a difference that history has proven to be critical to evacuation safety.

In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, evacuees from the World Trade Center were forced to navigate its enclosures by flashlight or in total darkness after the bombs destroyed the buildings’ backup generators, a situation that prompted cities and states across the U.S. to adopt tougher egress safety standards for commercial and residential R1 buildings, with the implementation of luminescent markings and signage being a top focus.

Today, a version of the IFC has been adopted by at least 42 states, leaving thousands of building owners to decide about implementing its guidelines. If this describes your situation, there are three reasons why you should implement the code’s guidelines for luminescent markings and signage: the products are inexpensive and require no outside assistance to implement; they increase the evacuation safety of your building occupants; and they protect you and/or your company from expensive legal action that could follow evacuation related injuries and casualties.

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