IBC Building Codes – Who do They Apply To?

The International Building Code (IBC), a version of which has been adopted by all 50 states, was created by the International Code Council (ICC) to govern egress safety in new commercial and residential R1 construction that features occupancy at above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. The IBC’s sister code, the International Fire Code, a version of which has been adopted by at least 42 states, contains the same measures but applies to existing buildings in addition to new construction.

What Types of Safety Measures Do IBC Building Codes Enforce?

In addition to defining safe construction for egress paths, the IBC also defines how egress paths should be outfitted after being properly constructed, particularly regarding vertical exit enclosures and exit passageways that are used in evacuations. Specifically, the IBC establishes the following emergency egress measures: the placement of floor identification signs at every floor landing within vertical exit enclosures; the placement of emergency exit symbols—also known as running man signs—on all exit leading doors within vertical exit enclosures and exit passageways; and the placement of luminescent markings (i.e. photoluminescent tape) on the following egress elements: steps, handrails and handrail extensions, landing areas, obstacles, door-frames, and door hardware.

New buildings in the U.S. must conform to IBC guidelines to be approved for habitation. However, existing buildings in states that haven’t adopted a version of the IFC may choose to the guidelines. If you own a building in a state that hasn’t adopted a version of the IFC, it’s important to remember that implementing its guidelines is still critical to avoiding botched evacuations that lead to casualties, lawsuits, and damaged reputations.

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