NFPA Emergency Exit Signs: Frequently Asked Questions
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) establishes fire safety standards for commercial and large residential buildings. In some instances, these standards are written into law, particularly by local governments and the federal Occupational Safety and Hazard Association (OSHA). But even the NFPA’s non-legal standards are considered the ideal standards for what they address. For many building owners, the most critical NFPA standards are those that address building emergency signage. Below, we answer frequently asked questions concerning the NFPA’s requirements for exit signs.
What types of exit signs does the NFPA require?
The NFPA requires three types of exit signage: building exit signage, exit stair door tactile signage, and emergency exit signs (a.k.a. running man signs). The first type indicates the presence of building exits, the second type indicates the presence of exit-leading doors, and the third type indicates exit-leading stair doors for those who read in Braille. The standards for these types of signage are contained in NFPA 101.
What are the design requirements for NFPA exit signs?
Except in jurisdictions where pictograms are permitted, the signs must display the word “Exit” in letters that are not less than six inches high, not less than two inches wide, and whose principal stroke is not less than 3/4 inch wide at any point. The distance between the letters should be at least 3/8 inch. When a sign is larger than normal, its lettering should increase in size accordingly.
What are the illumination and mounting requirements for NFPA exit signs?
Externally illuminated signage (e.g. electrical signage) should offer a minimum luminance of 54 lux on its surface. Internally illuminated signage (e.g. photoluminescent signage) must offer a surface luminance in accordance with its listing. The minimum surface illumination for internally illuminated signs is 0.06 feet lamberts.
Signs should be mounted with their bottom not less than 80 inches above the finished floor, and should be easily visible from every direction of egress approach.
What are the design and mounting requirements for stair door tactile signage?
Stair door tactile signage should contain the word “Exit” and be mounted at each door that requires an exit sign. For more specific information on stair door tactile signage compliance, the NFPA refers building owners to International Code Council/American National Standards Institute code A 117.1 (ICC/ANSI A 117.1).
What are the design and mounting requirements for NFPA emergency exit signs?
Running man signs should be mounted on exit-leading doors or adjacent to them, with their bottom edge not more than 18 inches above the floor. When installed adjacently, nearest edge of the signs should be within 4 inches of an exit-leading door’s doorframe. Concerning design, there is more than one type of running man signage appropriate for use. Acceptable running man signage is listed in NFPA 170.
At Jessup Manufacturing, we receive frequent questions about installing signage according to NFPA guidelines. In addition to providing building owners with the information they need, we also provide them with the signage they need. From NFPA exit signs to hazard signs, we have the luminescent signage that every building needs to be truly fire safe.